Interventions in primary schools that increase sun-protective behaviours and decrease ultraviolet radiation exposure, sunburn incidence and skin cancer risk can be effective. SunSmart School Accreditation Programmes (SSAP) are recommended. Prior to SSAP implementation in South Africa, we explored the feasibility of obtaining national baseline information and investigated possible associations between strategies regarding sun protection in schools and students' responses to a questionnaire. Principals from randomly selected urban government schools in all nine South African provinces completed a questionnaire and 679 students were surveyed. The mean sun-related knowledge and behaviour scores of students were 4 (range: 1-7) and 3 (range-0-8) out of 9, respectively. The mean school sun protection effort score was 4 out of 14. There were no statistically significant correlations between students' knowledge or behaviour scores and their school score. The World Health Organization recommends an SSAP to address policy, practice and curriculum changes to support sun protection of students. This cross-sectional study demonstrates the feasibility of, and need for, a larger baseline study with longitudinal, multi-variable follow-up which includes other influential factors, such as parent support. Such research could quantify the impact of the SSAP and identify which key factors influence the sun-related knowledge and behaviours of students.
- Sun protection
- South Africa