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Authors

  1. Wallis, Allan PhD
  2. Andersen, Peter A. PhD
  3. Buller, David B. PhD
  4. Walkosz, Barbara PhD
  5. Lui, Lucia MED
  6. Buller, Mary MA
  7. Scott, Michael D. PhD
  8. Jenkins, Rob MA

Abstract

Context: Outdoor workers are especially susceptible to skin cancer-the most common, but also one of the most preventable, forms of cancer. Colorado, the location of the study, has the second highest rate of skin cancer deaths in the nation.

 

Objective: Local government managers in Colorado-in municipalities, counties, and special districts-were surveyed to ascertain the extent to which they engage in formal (written) and informal practices to protect their outdoor workers against excessive exposure to sun.

 

Design: The survey consisted of 51 questions assessing awareness of formal or informal practices for sun protection of outdoor workers. An index of practices-the study's dependent variable-was created that was composed or practices such as providing employees free or reduced-cost sunscreen, wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, long-sleeved work shirts, long work pants, and temporary or permanent outdoor shade shelters. Proscriptive policies, such as restricting the use of broad brimmed hats, were subtracted from the index. Surveys were completed by 825 administrators representing 98 jurisdictions. Responses from administrators in the same jurisdiction were averaged.

 

Results: More than 40% of responding jurisdictions indicated that they engaged in informal sun safety practices. Tests conducted to determine what variables might account for the adoption of these sun protection practices found that the degree to which a community could be regarded as cosmopolite and as having an individualistic political culture were significant predictors. Type of government was also significant. Although, higher community income was a significant predictor, neither local government budget nor size was significant.

 

Conclusions: The adoption of sun safe practices bears low costs with potentially high returns. Findings from this study suggest that awareness campaigns might most effectively target cosmopolite communities, but that the greatest impact might be achieved by targeting localite communities. Government size and budget do not appear to be constraints in the adoption of sun safe practices.