Europeans get afflicted by skin cancer due to UV radiation exposure. They rely extensively on tanning beds and sunscreens. Lack of health literacy is also another factor in the growth of skin cancers. The effects of all these factors in skin cancer risk are not clear cut. This study investigates health literacy’s influence on sunscreen and sunbed usage. Health literacy goes beyond reading skills to cover information access and consumer competence. This study associates role of education in making well-informed tanning decisions.

Researchers used a multi-center case-control design within a three-year context. Participants were from 8 countries, namely, the UK, Germany, Spain, Finland, Poland, Greece, Italy, and Malta. The data collection method used was a common questionnaire under an identical protocol. Two items measured were sunscreen and sunbed use. Health literacy assessment is on a 1 to 5 scale using participant’s reading, confidence, and comprehension skills. Statistical analysis, variance tests, univariate, and multivariate linear regression were the primary tools.

Health literacy had opposite effects on sunscreen versus sunbed usage. The univariate odds ratios for sunscreen and sunbed were 0.78 and 0.85. While for the multivariate model, the ratios were 1.11 and 0.97, with a 97% confidence interval. So, sunscreen use was significantly lower with an increase in health literacy in the later model. Also, the sunbed protective measure improved with higher health literacy.

Health literacy definitely impacts sunscreen usage. But it does not seem to reduce sunbed usage despite effective interventions. More research is essential to correlate these factors and improve UVR prevention strategies.