Sun protection practices in preadolescents and adolescents: a school-based survey of almost 25,000 Connecticut schoolchildren

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2001 Mar;44(3):512-9. doi: 10.1067/mjd.2001.111621.


Sun protection practices in children and adolescents fall well below national recommendations. We present the results of a survey of sun protection use and other health-related behaviors in a sample of Connecticut Caucasian students aged 9 through 18 years (N = 24,645). Our objectives were to estimate the prevalence of sun protection use and to evaluate the relationship between sun protection use and health-risk behaviors and attitudes about appearance. We present data from 1988 through 1995 from the Connecticut Health Check, a health risk appraisal survey sponsored by the Connecticut Department of Public Health. Students enrolled in public and private elementary junior as well as senior high schools took the self-administered anonymous survey, which included multiple-choice questions about use of sun protection, cigarettes, and alcohol and about body image and self-esteem. We report prevalence proportions for use of sun protection by demographic features. We compared the proportion of students in 3 categories of outcome (always, sometimes, and never use sun protection) who reported various health-risk behaviors. Twenty percent of the sample reported always using sun protection; this is well below national goals set forth in the Healthy People 2000 recommendations. Sun protection use was inversely related to age and was higher among girls than boys at all ages. At all ages, students who did not use sun protection were more likely than those who did to report other health risk behaviors, such as use of cigarettes and alcohol. The data suggested that use of sun protection is associated with positive attitudes about appearance and self-image. Use of sun protection may be one component of an overall mode of health awareness and behavior. Programs promoting safe sun practices should target boys and be integrated into an overall campaign aimed at other risk-taking behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Age Factors
  • Attitude to Health
  • Child
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk-Taking
  • Schools
  • Self Concept
  • Sex Factors
  • Sunburn / prevention & control*
  • Sunscreening Agents / therapeutic use*


  • Sunscreening Agents