Sun Exposure and Sun Protection at Primary Schools in The Netherlands: A Cross-Sectional Study

Pediatr Dermatol. 2016 Jan-Feb;33(1):38-43. doi: 10.1111/pde.12711. Epub 2015 Nov 17.


Background: In The Netherlands, skin cancer incidence rates have dramatically increased during the last decades. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation is the most important environmental risk factor for developing skin cancer.

Aims: The present study aimed to determine the level of sun exposure and sun protection of children at Dutch primary schools.

Materials and methods: Registered members of an Internet panel of a private research company with a child 6 to 12 years of age completed a standardized questionnaire on sun exposure, sun protection and sunburn for their child on school days during the spring and summer.

Results: A total of 1103 parents completed the questionnaire. Most parents reported that their child spent 31 minutes to 1 hour (39.7%) or 1 hour to 1.5 hours (26.1%) outside at school during the spring and summer, 29.3% reported that sunscreen is always or often applied to the skin of their child in the morning on school days, 37% reported that they always or often paid attention to sun protection when selecting their child's outfit, 19.3% of the parents stated that their child could not play in the shade outside at school, and 19.9% of the parents reported that their child had ever had a sunburn at school.

Discussion: With most children, this consistent and repetitive pattern of sun exposure at school will probably lead to damage of exposed skin, because sun protection is insufficiently achieved among children during school days in the spring and summer.

Conclusions: Future school-based interventions are necessary to alert and change behavior of parents, children, and primary school teachers.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Netherlands
  • Parents
  • Schools
  • Sunburn / etiology*
  • Sunburn / prevention & control*
  • Sunlight / adverse effects*
  • Sunscreening Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Sunscreening Agents / therapeutic use
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects*


  • Sunscreening Agents