Approximately half of patients presenting to dermatology clinics in Beirut reported the use of sunscreen.
Sun protection knowledge and photoprotective behaviors are lacking among members of the Lebanese population, according to a cross-sectional study published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.
While extensive studies and research exploring the photoprotective knowledge, awareness, and behaviors have been conducted in other regions of the world, study authors Hasbani et al noted that this research is lacking in parts of the world such as Lebanon.
In the country of Lebanon, the ultraviolet index can reach up to 12 in summer months. This, coupled with its standing as a culture that partakes in and embraces tanning practices, led researchers to explore trends in sun protection knowledge, behaviors, and tanning habits. Additionally, they aimed to assess the relationships between a patient's history of skin cancer, sun-related skin conditions, and overall sun protection awareness.
In total, 1001 adults presenting to a dermatology clinic in Beirut, Lebanon, between August 2020 and April 2023 were considered for participation in the study. Adults were between the ages of 18 and 80 years old.
Patients were asked to complete an anonymous survey that was divided into 5 sections. Each section inquired about patients' demographics and occupation, use of skin protection, sun protective measures, history of skin cancer and other sun-related skin conditions, and general skin health information, respectively. All patients were also provided with an educational pamphlet about sun protective practices upon completion of the survey.
All 6 Fitzpatrick skin types were represented in the study, with Fitzpatrick phototype III being the most prevalent among participants. On average, patients were approximately 36.06 years of age, and 71.08% of patients were female.
Regarding occupation and potential occupational exposure, 28.36% of study participants reported sun exposure at work, with an average duration of exposure being 4.19 hours.
Of all respondents, slightly greater than half of participants (52.78%) reported use of sunscreen, whereas 46.29% reported they do not use sunscreen.
Researchers observed trends among sunscreen users and non sunscreen users, noting that regardless of sunscreen use, patients were of a similar age, skin phototype, and had a similar prior or current history of skin cancer. However, individuals who used sunscreen were more likely to be female with higher levels of education reported.
Just under half (47.42%) of patients reported daily use of sunscreen, with 45.53% of participants reporting use of sunscreen with an SPF between 21 and 50. A greater number of patients reported use of sunscreen to prevent skin discoloration and/or aging (52.82%) versus preventing skin burning (46.07%).
Additionally, a history of skin cancer was not associated with an increased odds of using sunscreen, although 4.7% of patients had a reported history of skin cancer. Despite this, patients with photo-related conditions such as rosacea, melasma, and lentigos, had statistically significantly greater use of sunscreen.
Study limitations included the study's single center nature and cross-sectional design, as well as a predominantly female participation sample. Approximately 87% of surveys were completed in full.
"Our findings should be the steppingstone towards implementing and gearing nation-wide awareness campaigns to tackle sun-protective measures and skin cancer prevention, and our outcomes indicate that dermatologists should be at the forefront, ... using social media as an important weapon in their battle to advocate for safe sun practices," wrote study authors Hasbani et al. "These insights can drive targeted interventions, enhancing preventive strategies against sun exposure risks in the Lebanese community that faces significant sun exposure risks."
Hasbani DJ, Ghaoui N, Haddad F, et al. Sun protection knowledge, attitudes and practices: A Lebanese-based survey. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. Published January 23, 2024. Accessed January 23, 2024. https://doi.org/10.1002/jvc2.363