Effectiveness of Sun Protection Program for Young Children

I felt this study was important and interesting because it emphasizes sun protection behaviors that may minimize sun damage and lifelong sun protection behaviors that will reduce the likelihood of developing skin cancer. This study was a randomized controlled clinical trial with a 4-week follow-up that included 300 parents who brought their child (2-6 years of age) to a Medical Group clinic. They were randomly assigned to receive a read-along book. swim shirt, and weekly text message reminders related to sun protection behaviors. 147 were randomly assigned to receive the information usually provided at a well-child visit.

Outcomes were caregiver-reported use of sun protection by the child using a 5-point Likert scale, duration of outdoor activities and number of children who had sunburn or skin irritation. Of the 300 caregiver-child pairs, the 153 children in the intervention group had significantly higher scores related to sun protection behaviors. Examination of pigmentary changes revealed that the children in the control group had significantly increased  their melanin levels, whereas the children in the intervention group did not have change.

In conclusion, this intervention was associated with increased sun protection behaviors among young children. Do you think interventions like this could be really helpful? Getting things started in early childhood could really lead to healthy behaviors as adults. This study is really interesting in pointing that out. Also, do you think this study has a flaw in that the results were self-reported? This was a really interesting study in the effects of interventions in young children that could lead to healthy behaviors later in life.

JAMA Pediatr. Published online February 08, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.4373

2 thoughts on “Effectiveness of Sun Protection Program for Young Children”

  1. With melanoma being the most common skin cancer, and a predicted 10,000 new cases in 2016, this study is extremely relevant. Self-care techniques cannot be emphasized enough when dealing with sun exposure, and I believe implementing programs like this would benefit kids of all ages. Making it interactive would also be a great way to get better results, such as having them log their outdoor activities and if they used sunscreen or wore the proper clothing to protect themselves, and even incorporating this information into health classes in elementary and middle schools. I see your point with the data possibly being flawed because of the self-reporting bias, however it would be pretty difficult to follow kids around all day to track their behaviors, but maybe getting parents involved would help. For instance, having a log to see how well the child is protecting him or herself from the sun, but keeping it in the parent’s possession so the child has to report back to mom or dad and might feel more obligated to tell the truth. On the flip side of this, though, parents could possible falsify the information to make sure they don’t look bad or seem like they are harming their child. This is a tricky issue to get around, but the concept is something that I think can be worked with and implemented in many locations such as doctor’s offices, schools, at sports practices, etc. to teach kids the importance of protecting themselves from possible harm in the future!

  2. I find this study to be very interesting and important. As a person who used to thoroughly enjoy sunbathing and wearing very minimal sunscreen, I have found it to be beneficial to wear sunscreen when going outside for long periods of time. I believe that interventions like this could be helpful. If children are taught early on the importance of sunscreen then this might help to significantly reduce the number of people who develop melanoma. This will also keep the children’s skin healthy and melanin level within a normal range.

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