An investigation into the awareness and understanding of the ultraviolet index forecasts in the South West of England
Despite large sun protection behaviour intervention campaigns there has not been a marked reduction in the incidence of skin cancer. This study explored the awareness and understanding of global solar UV index (UVI) information presented to the public in weather forecasts and whether individuals changed their sun exposure/protection behaviour as a result of receiving such information. A cross-sectional, face-to-face survey was undertaken in Devon and Cornwall in the South West of England between 20 August and 7 September 2008. 466 interviews were completed; 53% at beach locations and 38% in town centres. The specified targets for the interviews were achieved: males (n = 232), females (n = 234); resident (n = 251), tourist (n = 215); aged 16–34 (n = 156), 35–54 (n = 158), and 55 years plus (n = 152). Sixty-seven percent of participants had heard of the UVI (the predominant source being television broadcasts). Only 40% were able to state correctly that a value of 7 would be considered to be ‘high’. Sixty percent indicated that knowing the UVI value did not influence their sun protection behaviour. Awareness of UVI in the UK appears to have altered little in the past decade and although some improvements in understanding have been observed, it is concerning that this information is not influencing most individual's sun protection behaviour.