Skin cancer knowledge and sun protection behaviours in medical and non-medical university students in Karachi, Pakistan


Year:

Session type:

Rafaqat Bota1
1Dow Medical College, Karachi, Pakistan

Background

Objective: To examine skin cancer knowledge and sun protection behaviors in Medical and Non-Medical university students in Karachi, Pakistan

Method

We surveyed 768 students (16-27 years) at two large public sector universities (401 Medical Students and 367 Non-Medical Students) in Karachi, Pakistan. Survey data were collected regarding skin cancer knowledge and sun protection behaviors. Differences between the 2 groups were compared with chi-squared test.

Results

Of all the respondents, sun exposure as a risk factor for skin cancer was identified by 77.7%, genetics by 44%, ultraviolet radiation by 87.1%, multiple skin moles by 19.1% and fair complexion by 27.7%. Knowledge of risk factors was greater among the Medical Students as compared to the Non-Medical Students. Of the total, 56% of the participants ‘always' wears sun-protective clothing, 41.4% ‘always' wears hat/dupatta, 13.2% ‘always' seeks shade, 10.5% ‘always' wears sun glasses, and 27.9% ‘always or most of times' apply sunscreen with sun protection factor of ≥ 15. The most frequent method of sun protection was found to be wearing sun-protective clothing, which was significantly more common among the Medical Students (64.1% vs. 47.1, p<.001); while wearing of sun-glasses was significantly more common among the Non-Medical Students (15.8% vs. 5.7%, p<.001). In terms of the wearing of hat/dupatta, seeking shade and wearing sunscreen, no significant difference was evident between Medical and Non-Medical students.

Conclusion

University programs for increasing knowledge of skin cancer risk are warranted. Changing attitude and behaviors regarding exposure and protective measures is increasingly important.