Children have most to gain from sun safety behaviors, as an estimated 80 percent of total lifetime exposure occurs during childhood, according to a team of University of Hawaii and Harvard scientists.
The researchers studied a multi-ethnic group of 756 children in Hawaii aged six to eight, their parents, and 176 members of outdoor recreation program staffs. The study's primary goal was to gain better understanding of factors that influence people to adopt sun protection practices. The conclusions are published in the June issue of Health Education & Behavior.
"To date, there have been few rigorously tested interventions for children's skin cancer prevention and none that also focus on their parents and caregivers," said Principal Investigator Karen Glanz, Ph.D., M.P.H. of the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii. "Our findings have contributed to the design of SunSmart program here in Hawaii and we hope they can have significant impact on prevention behaviors elsewhere, too."
Survey questions focused on prevention practices such as: limiting time spend in the sun, avoiding the sun during peak hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., using sunscreen with a protection factor of 15 or higher on a daily basis, wearing hats, shirts, pants and other protective clothing, wearing sun glasses, seeking shade, avoiding sunburn, and making sun safety a family habit. The survey also looked into sun protection policies at the recreation programs and the personal sun protection practices of parents and recreation program staff.
Among the survey findings: