The incidence of cutaneous melanoma is increasing although 80-95% of all deaths caused by melanoma can be avoided through protective behaviours. There is evidence that social marketing as an approach in public health can improve health-related behaviours and encourage sun-safe behaviours.
A multicentre survey was conducted to collect and compare data about cutaneous melanoma risk, knowledge, concern, and protective behaviours across Northern, Central, and Southern Italy, and explore how these data could potentially inform a social marketing intervention to improve sun-safe behaviours. Data were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics.
A total of 1034 questionnaires were collected. Apart from ‘Personal Risk’ no statistically significant differences were found between the three regions. About 30% (n=344) of the total sample had high levels of personal risk, and low levels of concern and protective behaviour, and over 70% (n=711) gave priority to sun tanning. The worst scores were related to knowledge about melanoma (30% wrong answers, and over 40% ‘don’t know’). Protective behaviour was moderately correlated with age (p=0.03). Personal risk was significantly higher in women (10.84 vs. 10.05), and lower in individuals with a degree (9.46 vs. 11.38; p<0.001).
Over 70% of our sample gave priority to sun tanning, which combined with low levels of concern and knowledge about melanoma, and high levels of personal risk, confirm that much still needs to be done in terms of melanoma prevention, but all these are aspects that could be effectively addressed through social marketing interventions.
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