Background: There are few effective sun-safety education programs for use in secondary schools. Project aims were to create a sun-safety curriculum for grades 6 to 8, and to test whether exposure to the curriculum would increase children's sun-protection behavior. Design: A pair-matched, group-randomized, pre-post test, controlled trial was performed with middle schools as the unit of randomization. Teachers implemented the six-unit sun-safety curriculum in 2001-2003, and analyses were performed in 2003-2004. Setting/Participants: A total of 2038 children from 30 middle schools in Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. Main Outcome Measures: Self-reported sun-protection behavior using frequency ratings and diary. Results: Compared to control schools, children receiving the curriculum reported more frequent sun protection (p=0.0035), and a greater proportion wore long-sleeved shirts during recess (p<0.0001) and applied sunscreen (p<0.0001). Exposure to the curriculum improved knowledge (p<0.0001), decreased perceived barriers to using sunscreen (p=0.0046), enhanced self-efficacy expectations (p=0.0577) about sun safety, and reduced favorable attitudes toward sun tanning (p=0.0026 to <0.0001). In intent-to-treat analyses, the treatment effect was eliminated only under the most conservative assumptions about dropouts. Conclusions: Educational approaches to sun safety in middle school may be effective for improving children's sun safety. Potential trial limitations include measuring short-term outcomes, focusing on young adolescents, using active parental consent, and testing in the American Southwest.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health