Effect of the SunSafe Student Ambassador Program on the attitudes, knowledge and behaviour of Australian high-school students towards sun safety: a prospective study

Clin Exp Dermatol. 2022 Nov;47(11):1956-1967. doi: 10.1111/ced.15220. Epub 2022 Aug 24.


Background: The SunSafe Student Ambassador Program (SSSAP) in Australia uses the peer-to-peer learning environment to educate high-school students about sun-safety.

Aims: To assess whether the SSSAP would improve knowledge, attitudes and behaviours towards sun safety in high-school students and whether this would be sustained at 3 months.

Methods: An assessment survey was delivered before, immediately after and 3 months after participation in the SSSAP in 2019.

Results: In total, 503 participants completed the pre-presentation survey, 274 completed the post-presentation survey, and 218 completed both. Immediately following presentation, the total composite score for all 18 knowledge questions increased from a mean ± SD of 11.8 ± 3.5 to 13.8 ± 4.7 (P < 0.001). There was strong evidence for an improvement in one attitude-based question 'Is it healthy to have a tan?' (P < 0.01) and one behaviour question about wearing sunscreen daily (P = 0.02). After 3 months, 235 students were matched to their pre-presentation survey. The composite score of all knowledge questions had improved from 11.2 ± 3.5 to 12.1 ± 4.5 (out of a total of 18) (P < 0.01). There was also an improvement in two attitude questions 'Do you feel better when you have a tan?' (P = 0.03) and 'Is it healthy to have a tan?' (very strong evidence: P < 0.001), and evidence for a reduction in time spent outdoors on a weekday (P = 0.04).

Conclusion: The SSSAP was associated with improvements in knowledge, attitude and behaviour towards sun safety immediately and at 3 months post-presentation. Further research is required to determine whether these positive effects are sustained and whether they ultimately reduce skin cancers.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Students
  • Sunbathing*
  • Sunscreening Agents* / therapeutic use


  • Sunscreening Agents