Knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of elementary school students regarding sun exposure and skin cancer Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract:  The aim of this study was to assess baseline knowledge of skin cancer, sun protection practices, and perceptions of tanning among third through fifth grade elementary students in Florida. A total of 4,002 students in nineteen elementary schools in Palm Beach County, Florida were surveyed. SunSmart America™ curriculum pretest responses were the main outcome measures. Overall students’ knowledge using a students’ mean knowledge scale scores of skin cancer and sun protection were low (<40% of questions answered correctly) and was found to increase with increasing grade level (p < 0.01). Boys more frequently reported spending greater than 2 hours in the sun when compared with girls (p < 0.01). Girls, however, were more likely to try and get a tan most of the time or always when compared with boys (p = 0.02). Non‐Hispanic White students (51.3%) more frequently reported use of SPF 15 or greater sunscreen “most of the time or always” compared with Hispanic (35.3%) and non‐Hispanic Black (13.4%) students (p < 0.01). Elementary aged students in south Florida have limited knowledge about sun safety, despite spending considerable amount of time in the sun. Sun safe behavior is associated with gender and ethnicity. The findings provide empirical support for the need of a school‐based educational intervention.

publication date

  • January 1, 2009