Geographical differences in primary schoolchildren's key sun-related behaviours: an exploratory, feasibility study

Caradee Y. Wright, Patricia N. Albers, Maria A. Oosthuizen, Mogesh Naidoo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


South Africa receives high levels of solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR). Exposure to UVR has beneficial and harmful effects, the most common of which are vitamin D synthesis and skin cancer, respectively. Acute exposure during childhood is a known risk factor for melanoma. In South Africa where skin cancers account for a third of all histopathologically diagnosed cancers, information on behaviour patterns and protection use is needed to inform awareness campaigns. Hence, this article aimed to perform an exploratory, feasibility study on the sun-related behaviours of urban primary schoolchildren by province. In general, use of sun protection was inconsistent and 52% of children reported sunburn. Generally, children from schools in the eastern part of the country self-reported higher incidence of suntan and sunburn compared to the western half. Similarly, children in Limpopo, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and North-West tended to use sun protection more often compared to the remaining provinces, although hat/cap usage and clothing were comparably high in the Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, respectively. Children in the Western Cape had a high incidence of sunburn and amongst the lowest use of sun protection; this province is also known to have skin cancer incidence rates as high as those in Australia. While results are not representative of all of South Africa, they provide some indication that there is much to be done to raise levels of sun-related knowledge and tailor safe sun behaviours.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-216
JournalSouth african geographical journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014


  • Sun protection
  • Sun exposure
  • South Africa
  • School children
  • behaviour


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