A cluster randomized trial of sun protection at elementary schools. Results from year 2

Am J Prev Med. 2011 Dec;41(6):615-8. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2011.08.005.


Background: Elementary schools are one potential venue for sun protection interventions that reduce childhood sun exposure.

Purpose: To assess Year-2 results from a cluster randomized trial promoting hat use at schools.

Design: Block randomization was used to assign intervention/control status to participating schools. Data were collected from 2006 to 2008 and analyzed in 2007-2010.

Setting/participants: Of the 24 schools in the School District of Hillsborough County, Florida enrolled, 4th-graders were targeted in the first year and followed through their 5th-grade year.

Intervention: Classroom sessions were conducted to improve sun protection knowledge, foster more positive attitudes about hat use, and change the subjective norm of wearing hats when at school.

Main outcome measures: Year-2 outcomes assessed included hat use at school (measured by direct observation), hat use outside of school (measured by self-report) and skin pigmentation and nevi counts (measured for a subgroup of 439 students).

Results: The percentage of students observed wearing hats at control schools remained unchanged during the 2-year period (range 0%-2%) but increased significantly at intervention schools (2% at baseline, 41% at end of Year 1, 19% at end of Year 2; p<0.001 for intervention effect). Measures of skin pigmentation, nevi counts, and self-reported use of hats outside of school did not change during the study period.

Conclusions: This intervention increased use of hats at school through Year 2 but had no measurable effect on skin pigmentation or nevi. Whether school-based interventions can ultimately prevent skin cancer is uncertain.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00346021.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Florida
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Protective Clothing
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Schools*
  • Sunburn / prevention & control*

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00346021