Increasing sun protection in winter outdoor recreation a theory-based health communication program

Am J Prev Med. 2008 Jun;34(6):502-9. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2008.02.011.


Background: Unprotected and excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is the primary risk factor for skin cancer.

Design: A pair-matched, group-randomized, pre-test/post-test, quasi-experimental design, with ski resorts as the unit of randomization, tested the effectiveness of Go Sun Smart, a multi-channel skin cancer prevention program. Independent samples of guests were taken at baseline (2001) and follow-up (2002); data were analyzed in 2006.

Setting and participants: A total of 6516 adult guests at 26 ski areas in the western U.S. and Canada were recruited, consented, and interviewed on chairlifts. This study was nested within an occupational intervention for ski area workers.

Intervention: Ski areas were pair-matched and randomized to receive Go Sun Smart, which consisted of print, electronic, visual, and interpersonal skin cancer prevention messages.

Main outcome measures: Sun-protection behaviors, sunburning, recall of sun-protection messages, and the association of message exposure to sun protection.

Results: The difference in recall of all sun-protection messages, messages on signs and posters, and the Go Sun Smart logo was significant between the intervention and control resorts. Reported use of sun-protection practices was higher by guests at intervention ski areas using more (a higher dose of) Go Sun Smart materials. Intervention-group guests who recalled a sun-safety message were more likely to practice sun safety than intervention-group guests who did not recall a message and control-group guests.

Conclusions: While the mere implementation of Go Sun Smart did not produce sun-safety improvements, Go Sun Smart appeared to be effective for guests who encountered and remembered it. Many factors can work against message exposure. Signage seemed to produce the greatest increase in exposure to sun-safety messages.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Education / methods*
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Seasons*
  • Skiing*
  • Sunburn / prevention & control*
  • Sunscreening Agents / administration & dosage
  • Sunscreening Agents / therapeutic use*


  • Sunscreening Agents