Journal scan

Teaching children to be sun smart: an American study

An evaluation of interventions by the Nevada Cancer Coalition's Sun Smart Schools project to encourage sun safety

An evaluation of interventions by the Nevada Cancer Coalition's Sun Smart Schools project to encourage sun safety


Picture: iStock

Changing the mindset and subsequent behaviour of school children towards sun safety can be difficult, however reducing the risk for the development of skin cancer associated with childhood ultraviolet radiation (UV) exposure is important.

Using a sample of pupils attending seven schools across the state of Nevada US, who have an even greater risk of skin cancers due to the state’s high altitude and number of annual reported sunny days, this American research pilot examined the effect of a sun smart curricula based intervention.

The Nevada Cancer Coalition's Sun Smart Schools project included presentations about the hazards of cumulative sun exposure and sun safety; advocacy and encouragement of sun screen use; provision of shade, and endorsement of sun protective clothing. The self-report pre-intervention questionnaires were completed by 1,441 pupils, with 987 also answering the post intervention survey.

The results suggested a positive behaviour change across all school age groups, from elementary to high school, with regard to sun protective practices. The increased use of sunscreen was reported in elementary and high school pupils; the use of sunglasses improved in the younger age group and the wearing of hats in the high school participants.  Wearing long sleeved clothing increased in middle school children, however the middle school age children reported an overall decrease in their stance towards the meaning and magnitude of sun risk and safety. That notwithstanding, this age group did see a reduction overall in the number of people who reported that they thought a person’s appearance was improved from having a suntan.


Kouzes E, Thompson C, Herington C et al (2017) Sun smart schools Nevada: Increasing knowledge among school children about ultraviolet radiation. Preventing Chronic Disease. doi: 10.5888/pcd14.170202.

This article is for subscribers only

Jobs