BioMed Central, BMC Medical Education, 1(23), 2023
Abstract Background High levels of vitamin D deficiency are commonly reported even in regions with abundant sunshine. This necessitates a comprehensive understanding of the determinants that influence sun exposure practices. As the primary source of health-related knowledge for the general public, the attitude of the healthcare professionals towards sunlight and their awareness related to vitamin D deficiency can be critical in this regard. Methods A cross-sectional survey was conducted among 2,242 physicians, intern doctors, and senior medical students in Bangladesh from October 2019 to February 2020. A pre-tested structured questionnaire (containing twelve close-ended questions) was used. The perceptions of health risks due to sun exposure, and basic knowledge of the physiological and epidemiological aspects of vitamin D deficiency were tested. Results An overall negative attitude towards sunlight in the context of Bangladesh was highlighted – 68% participants thought regular sun exposure would be harmful or very harmful; 26% thought the level of UV radiation was very high; 44% recommended using sunscreen always; skin burns, heat stroke, and cancer were selected as potential consequences of regular sun exposure by 45%, 21%, and 30% respondents respectively. Overall knowledge regarding vitamin D deficiency appeared to be biased towards bone health; other symptoms and associated illnesses not having obvious link to Calcium-metabolism were identified much lesser frequently. Furthermore, ‘sunrise to 10 am’ was identified as the best time to get vitamin D by 69% participants; 60% believed < 30 min of weekly sun exposure would be sufficient for the Bangladeshi population; an only 33% identified that prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in Bangladesh would be 50% or more. Taking vitamin D-rich food was suggested by more respondents over regular sun exposure (43% vs. 33%) as more effective remedial strategy to curb vitamin D deficiency in Bangladesh. Conclusion In addition to highlighting some crucial knowledge gaps, results from this study provides a comprehensive baseline dataset for knowledge and attitude regarding the public health aspects of vitamin D deficiency among the healthcare providers in Bangladesh, which would be generalizable to other countries with similar socio-demographic context, and will facilitate taking more effective policies worldwide.