"Block the sun, not the fun": evaluation of a skin cancer prevention program for child care centers

Am J Prev Med. 1999 Jul;17(1):31-7. doi: 10.1016/s0749-3797(99)00031-8.


Introduction: This paper describes the evaluation of a skin cancer prevention program for preschools and daycare centers. The intervention was targeted primarily at staff of child care centers, with the aim of increasing use of sun protection practices for young children while attending these centers. Secondary target groups included parents and the children themselves. The intervention, which adopted the slogan, "Block the Sun, Not the Fun," included workshops for child care center staff, and information/activity packets for parents.

Methods: Twenty-seven preschools and daycare centers were randomly assigned to an intervention or wait-list control group. The intervention group received the intervention during the spring of 1994; the wait-list control group received the intervention during the spring of 1995. Evaluation consisted of interviews with center directors, observations of practices, and review of written policies before the intervention (in summer, 1993) and after the intervention (in summer, 1994). A survey of 201 parents was conducted during late summer 1994.

Results: While the intervention did not appear to change the sun protection attitudes or practices of parents, or use of clothing and shade at child care centers, results suggested significant changes in the sun protection knowledge/attitudes of center directors and the use of sunscreen at child care centers. Additionally, parents with children attending centers in the intervention group were more likely to be satisfied with sun protection practices at their centers.

Conclusion: This low-intensity intervention appears to be effective at changing sun protection attitudes and sunscreen use at child care centers, and can be easily replicated. However, high staff turnover at child care centers would suggest that "boosters" will be necessary to sustain the impact. More intensive efforts directed at social norms are likely to be necessary to change clothing and outdoor play practices.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Carcinoma / prevention & control*
  • Child Day Care Centers
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Health Education*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / prevention & control*
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Sunburn / prevention & control