HSE, Irish Skin Foundation, ULHG, Healthy Ireland SunSmart Videos

SunSmart video series encourages everyone to enjoy the sun safely

ISF, NCCP, ULHG and Healthy Ireland SunSmart launch video series to increase awareness and adoption of skin cancer preventative behaviours to help reduce the risk of skin cancer, the most common cancer in Ireland

Friday, 18th June 2021, Ireland: The Irish Skin Foundation (ISF) and Dr Sinead Field, Consultant Dermatologist at University Hospital Limerick, in association with HSE’s National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP), University of Limerick Hospital Group (ULHG), and the Healthy Ireland SunSmart campaign have launched a series of five video animations, to encourage people to build SunSmart behaviours into their everyday routine, especially from April – September when the intensity of sunburn producing ultraviolet radiation (UV) is greatest. 

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in Ireland, with over 13,000 cases diagnosed annually. This is twice the number compared to 10 years ago and is projected to more than double again by 2045. Yet, most skin cancers could be prevented. 

Prof Anne-Marie Tobin, Consultant Dermatologist, HSE Clinical Lead in Dermatology says, “In dermatology, almost half of the work we do refers to skin cancer, and yet it is one of the most preventable forms of cancer. The risk factors for developing skin cancers are from sun and UV exposure, which are avoidable risk factors. It’s important to educate the public that most people living in Ireland have fair skin, which burns easily, and tans poorly, so are they are particularly vulnerable to UV damage and skin cancer and need to adjust their behaviours accordingly.”

Dr Sinead Field, Consultant Dermatologist, University Hospital Limerick, says of the launch of the video animation series, “Traditional health promotion campaigns have had to be reimagined in light of COVID-19 public health restrictions. Our aim in developing these animations was to bring the SunSmart messaging to life by creating a novel skin cancer awareness campaign in response to these changed circumstances and explore how digital health promotion initiatives can support all of us in adopting healthy sun protective behaviours.”

The messaging throughout the video series highlights key skin cancer preventative behaviours and focuses primarily on the four priority groups identified in the National Skin Cancer Prevention Plan 2019-2022; children and young people, outdoor workers, those who participate in outdoor leisure activities and sunbed users. The videos encourage people to follow the SunSmart 5 S’s: Slip-on clothing that covers your skin, Slop on sunscreen, Slap on a wide-brimmed hat, Seek shade, and Slide on sunglasses.

Dr Triona McCarthy, Director of Public Health, HSE NCCP comments, “With COVID-19 restrictions easing as we move further into summer, people have more opportunity to enjoy getting outside. The videos contain simple reminders on how easy it is to enjoy the sun safely, as we go about our daily activities whether that be work or play. By following the SunSmart 5S’s we can mind our skin and reduce our risk of skin cancer.”

The National Skin Cancer Prevention Plan sets out to enhance cross-sectoral collaboration to increase awareness and adoption of skin cancer preventative behaviours. The ISF is a member of the Irish Cancer Prevention Network (ICPN) established by the NCCP, Irish Cancer Society, Marie Keating Foundation and Breakthrough Cancer Research, who work collaboratively to support cancer risk reduction initiatives such as Healthy Ireland SunSmart, with the National Screening Service and ISF.

David McMahon, CEO, ISF says, “The ISF is proud to be a member of the ICPN and delighted to be able to support the SunSmart campaign and core messaging of the National Skin Cancer Prevention Plan through the creation of the video resources. With skin cancer recognised as the most common type of cancer diagnosed in Ireland and the rise in incidence set to continue if left unchecked, it is more important than ever that we collectively highlight behaviours that cause UV damage and reverse this worrying trend.”

The videos will be played on visual display units throughout ULHG hospitals and hospital social media channels this summer, as part of a research initiative to evaluate the effectiveness of these assets in raising awareness of sun protective behaviours amongst staff. To view the videos and learn more about being SunSmart visit the ISF website: www.irishskin.ie, the HSE website: hse.ie or the SunSmart hub. Follow the #SunSmart campaign on social for more information. 

 1. National Cancer Registry. Cancer incidence projections for Ireland 2020-2045. Cork: NCRI; 2019

Last updated on: 18 / 06 / 2021