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August 2001

Sun Protection Practices for Children: Knowledge, Attitudes, and Parent Behaviors

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Family Medicine (Mr Johnson and Dr Roetzheim), Pediatrics (Dr Weathers), and Family Medicine (Ms Davy and Mr Boyett), University of South Florida, and the Division of Cancer Control, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute (Dr Roetzheim), Tampa.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2001;155(8):891-896. doi:10.1001/archpedi.155.8.891

Objective  To examine the frequency with which sun protection is used by parents for their children.

Design and Setting  Descriptive survey conducted at a university medical clinic in Florida.

Participants  Parents of children aged 1 to 16 years were approached in the waiting area, and 77 of 100 were successfully interviewed.

Main Outcome Measures  Parents' self-reported use of sun protection measures for their children and their attitudes and beliefs about sun protection.

Results  Fewer than half of respondents (43%) reported regularly using sun protection for their child. Regular use of sun protection was reported more frequently by female caretakers and those with more favorable attitudes regarding sun protection use. Sunscreen was the most frequently used measure, and preventing sunburn was the primary reason for using sun protection. Respondents held several unfavorable sun protection attitudes, including the belief that sun exposure was healthy, that children looked better with a tan, and that it was okay to stay out in the sun longer if the child wore sunscreen.

Conclusions  Regular use of sun protection for children is infrequent and consists primarily of applying sunscreen rather than methods that reduce sun exposure. Parents primarily use sunscreen to prevent sunburn and may increase their children's overall sun exposure as a result.