An Environmental Scan of Sun Safety Messaging in the Canadian Context

By Kainat Bashir and Eileen O’Connor.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Civic and Political Studies

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One third of all cancers being diagnosed worldwide are skin cancers and the incidence rate of skin cancer in developed countries has risen dramatically in the last decade. This study seeks to explore the problem of increasing melanoma rates among Canadian women 18-34 years old. Literature indicates that skin safety and environmental awareness are closely linked in Canada. One of the main forms of sun safety messaging Canadians receive relates to the use of the UV Index to determine when to avoid the sun. Canadian messaging also discuss ozone depletion and makes the effort to ensure the public links detrimental impacts on the environment to their health, and more specifically their chances of developing melanoma. Studies have also looked into how gender and perceptions of feminine beauty by society construct ideas of an ideal when it comes to beauty and how it is important to acknowledge this when trying to understand sun safety attitudes. In this study, an environmental scan will be carried out of some of the sun safety resources available to Canadians and more specifically, the messaging disseminated by three different organizations - the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the Melanoma Network of Canada (MNC) and the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund (DCMF). The three organizations chosen will give a snapshot of some of the awareness initiatives that are present in Canadian society and further the understanding of the messages they promote. Several factors are being studied – the target audience, the visuals used, the primary method used to convey information, the types of messaging used (prevention and risk messaging), and the presentation of the information.

Keywords: Melanoma, Sun Safety, Tanning, Population Health Framework, Gender, Beauty

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Civic and Political Studies, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp.1-12. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 358.171KB).

Kainat Bashir

M.A. Graduate Student, School of Human Kinetics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Kainat Bashir, BSc (University of Toronto), is an MA candidate in the graduate program in the School of Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa. She is investigating health perceptions and practices related to skin and sun safety among Canadian female university students. To better understand why melanoma rates among young women are increasing, Ms. Bashir adopts an interdisciplinary approach in her exploration of young women's knowledge and awareness of tanning risks.

Dr. Eileen O’Connor

Associate Professor, School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Eileen O’Connor is an Associate Professor in the School of Human Kinetics, and Affiliate Scientist at the Institute of Population Heath, University of Ottawa. She is a historian by training, and is interested in the field of women's health. Current projects include an analysis of gender, sport and health in a history of the public baths in Canada. Other research projects focus on the development of e-portfolios to enhance critical thinking and reflective learning through experiential learning.