Tell us more about yourself and the author team.
Brad Stenner (PhD) is an Early Career Researcher with a passion and track record in high-quality golf and health research. He is particularly interested in the role of golf in contributing to health and well-being across the lifespan, with a focus on older adults and the inclusive nature of golf. Led by Brad, the project team included collaborators from around the world who regularly contribute to the Golf and Health Project – a worldwide collaboration demonstrating the valuable contribution of golf to society and communities.
What is the story behind your study?
The importance of exploring the relationship between health and golf is something that the team are very passionate about. During his PhD studies, Brad was awarded a travel grant to visit Nigel and Stephanie at the University of Oxford, where they were conducting health and wellbeing studies in various sports (cricket, rugby and baseball). Using this learning and a shared interest in golf and health, we teamed up with Dr Roger Hawkes to design the Australian-based Golf and Health Survey. Since we met in 2018, the productive collaboration has continued for further studies planned.
Golfers can often spend more than 4 hours in direct sunlight when playing, and anecdotally they report a high awareness of the risk of skin cancer and the need to use high-SPF sunscreen and wear protective hats, such as broad brims. However, the discussion of skin cancer within the golfing community suggests a high diagnosis rate, with stories of regular skin cancer detection and associated treatment. However, no known studies have explored the risk of skin cancer in golfers in Australia compared to the general population.
In your own words, what did you find?
We found that golfers in Australia had a 2.4x higher risk of being diagnosed with skin cancer than the general Australian population. This is the first study that has explored skin cancer diagnosis in an Australian golfing population and highlights the importance of using sun innovative and preventative skin strategies such as high SPF sunscreen, appropriate hats and clothing.
What was the main challenge you faced in your study?
Our main challenge was merging data with a large population-based cohort to allow accurate comparison between golf participants and the general population. Accessing a high-quality comparative data set is vital and underpins the quality of the study and any conclusions we can draw from the results.
If there is one take-home message from your study, what would that be?
Every time you go out and play golf, put on sunscreen, wear broad-brimmed/bucket-style hats and protective clothing, and make sure you re-apply sunscreen regularly.