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Determinants of Sunburn and Sun Protection of Agricultural Workers During Occupational and Recreational Activities

Backes, Claudine Pharm; Milon, Antoine MSc; Koechlin, Alice MSc; Vernez, David PhD; Bulliard, Jean-Luc PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: November 2017 - Volume 59 - Issue 11 - p 1089–1094
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001140
Original Articles

Objective: The aim of this study was to identify determinants of occupational sunburn in agricultural workers and assess their occupational and recreational sun protection habits.

Methods: Specific surveys of agricultural workers in Switzerland and France were conducted (N = 1538). Multivariate logistic regressions identified occupational sunburn determinants. Occupational and recreational sun protection habits were estimated and correlated.

Results: One-year occupational and recreational sunburn prevalences were 19.8% and 11.5%, respectively. Occupational sunburn increased with having a recent recreational sunburn, highly sensitive skin, young age, high perceived skin cancer risk, using sunscreen, and not wearing a hat. Correlation between protection habits during work and leisure was substantial (r s 0.5 to 0.7). Skin health knowledge was high and pro-tanning attitude moderate.

Conclusion: Potentially modifiable sunburn determinants and suboptimal recreational and occupational sun protection practices were identified in agricultural workers. Refining and tailoring sun protection messages targeting the agricultural sector are needed.

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University Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (IUMSP), Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV) and University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland (Ms Backes, Dr Bulliard); Institute for Work and Health (IST), University of Lausanne and Geneva, Lausanne, Switzerland (Ms Backes, Mr Milon, Dr Vernez); International Prevention Research Institute, Lyon, France (Ms Koechlin); and University of Strathclyde Institute for Global Public Health at iPRI, International Prevention Research Institute, Lyon, France (Ms Koechlin).

Address correspondence to: Claudine Backes, Pharm, University Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (IUMSP), Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV) and University of Lausanne, Route de la Corniche 10, CH-1010 Lausanne, Switzerland (

This work was supported by research grants from the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) (Grant no. N.EST-2011/1/075), the medical and community health department [Département universitaire de médecine et santé communautaires (DUMSC)] of the Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) (Grant no. 28023), and by the Swiss National Science Foundation (Grant no. CR23I3 152803) project PuRSUE (PRedict Solar Uv Exposure).

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Supplemental digital contents are available for this article. Direct URL citation appears in the printed text and is provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

Copyright © 2017 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine