Ultraviolet Radiation Awareness Activities And Ultraviolet Radiation Protection Policies In Ontario Public Health Units

George KAPELOS, Ryerson University, Canada

1 Department of Architectural Science, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario
2 Head, Division of Dermatology University Health Network, Professor, University of Toronto, Toronto Ontario

Purpose: A funded study determined the scope and depth of skin cancer prevention initiatives in Ontario Public Health Units (PHUs), which are at the forefront of delivery of ultraviolet radiation (UV) awareness and skin cancer prevention activities in Ontario. These PHUs have formed networks to collaborate, enhance communications, share information and promote skin cancer prevention. The study aggregated data on the range, scope and type of initiatives in skin cancer prevention by PHUs to determine the level of their activities and to provide future direction to collaborating networks.
Methods: In 2009, a survey was conducted of Ontario 36 PHUs to determine the levels of activity with regard to UV awareness activities and protection policies. This survey was repeated in 2013 by a sub-group of PHUs to determine if significant changes in activities or policies had occurred.
Results: 31 of 36 PHUs participated, thus including PHUs responsible for the health of 85% of Ontario’s population. A range of involvement and activities by health care professionals to address skin cancer prevention was found. Activities are developed to target diverse groups and respond to locally determined needs and conditions. Respondents reported the presence of policies and guidelines in support of UV awareness and skin cancer prevention. They identified barriers to delivery of programs and activities, as well as impediments to policy and guideline development, notably lack of resources and public perceptions of the issue. Few programs were evaluated for their effectiveness. In 2013 no substantive changes in activity levels or perceived barriers were found.
Conclusions: PHU professionals utilize multiple strategies whose implementation is constrained by resources and perceived and actual barriers. The lack of program evaluation prevents full assessment of activity outcomes and thus constrains ongoing health promotion planning.
Funding: Canadian Cancer Society (Ontario Division), Ryerson University