Sun exposure and sun protective behaviours in Portugal: results from the first National Health Examination Survey (INSEF 2015)

  • Marta BarretoEmail author
  • Irina Kislaya
  • Ana J. Santos
  • Sónia Namorado
  • Joana Santos
  • Baltazar Nunes
  • Carlos M. Dias
Original Article



Sunlight exposure is responsible for a large number of dermatological diseases. The purpose of this study was to estimate the prevalence of hazardous sun exposure and adherence to sun protective behaviours and its associated factors in adults from the Portuguese population.


A total of 4,797 participants aged between 25 and 74 years old answered the sun exposure module of the National Health Examination Survey questionnaire, which was performed in 2015. Hazardous sun exposure and sun protective behaviours were assessed for a typical summer day during leisure time. Descriptive statistics and Poisson regression were used to examine associations between hazardous sun exposure and adherence to sun protective behaviours with population characteristics.


Among the 4,797 participants, prevalence of hazardous sun exposure was 76.4 and 67.4% among men and women, respectively. It was mainly associated with younger age, lower education level and practice of regular physical activity. The prevalence of nonadherence to sun protective behaviours was 38.6 and 22.3%, among men and women, respectively. Education and income were inversely associated with adherence to sun protective behaviours. Individuals residing in regions displaying higher UV indexes had higher prevalence of sun protective practices.


The prevalence of hazardous sun exposure and nonadherence to sun protective behaviours is considerable in the Portuguese population. The association between these indicators and sociodemographic factors in the population, reinforces the importance of developing sun protection messages directed at specific target audiences.


INSEF Epidemiology Portugal Sun exposure UV radiation Sun protection 


Funding information

The National Health Examination Survey (INSEF) was developed as part of the project “Improvement of epidemiological health information to support public health decision and management in Portugal. Towards reduced inequalities, improved health and bilateral cooperation”, funded by the Public Health Initiatives Program, within the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism (EEA Grants) 2009–2014, and by the Portuguese Government.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This study was approved by the ethical committee of the National Health Institute Doutor Ricardo Jorge and by the ethical committees of the Portuguese Regional Health Administrations and of the ethical committees of the Regional Health Secretariats of the Autonomous Regions of Madeira and Azores.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants involved in the study.

Supplementary material

10389_2019_1133_MOESM1_ESM.docx (13 kb)
Supplementary Table 1 (DOCX 13 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EpidemiologyInstituto Nacional de Saúde Doutor Ricardo JorgeLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Public Health Research CentreUniversidade Nova de LisboaLisbonPortugal

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