Limiting exposure to sunlight during childhood can significantly reduce the risk of skin cancer. This was the first national study to assess the sun protection policies and practices of early childhood services across Australia. It also examined the key predictors of services' sun protection practices. In 2007, 1017 respondents completed a self-administered survey about the sun protection policies and practices in their early childhood service (response rate of 59%). Most (95%) had a written sun protection policy. The most common policy inclusions were hat wearing (91%), sunscreen use (87%) and enforcement of policy (97%). Less frequently reported inclusions were protective clothing (69%), information for parents/caregivers (58%) and regular reviews/updates of policies (65%). Basic sun protection practices (e.g. required any type of hat and sunscreen use) were more commonly reported than extensive practices (required protective clothing or regularly applied sunscreen). Higher sun protection policy scores, being a formal childcare service as opposed to a kindergarten/pre-school and having SunSmart status as opposed to not, were associated with higher sun protection practice scores (P < 0.001). Sun protection policies may be improved through encouraging services to have more specific policy inclusions and to model their policies on the SunSmart Early Childhood Program.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health