Preventing Skin Cancer: Child Care Center-Based Interventions
Task Force Finding
The Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends child care center-based skin cancer prevention interventions that include implementation of sun protection policies along with education of staff and parents. This recommendation is based on sufficient evidence that these interventions increase children’s protection from excessive UV exposure.
Read the full Task Force Finding and Rationale Statement for details including implementation issues, possible added benefits, potential harms, and evidence gaps.
Child care center-based interventions to promote sun-protective behaviors include educational interventions, supportive behavioral interventions, and environmental and policy changes in daycare or preschool settings.
Educational and behavioral interventions generally provide information about sun safety and the effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and may be directed to children, their caregivers (e.g., staff, parents), or both. Messages delivered in lectures or through small media can be reinforced by modeling or role-playing.
Sun-protective environmental and policy changes include increasing the availability of sun-protective items (e.g., sunscreen or protective clothing), adding sun-protective features to the physical environment (e.g., shade structures), and implementing sun-protection policies (e.g., clothing guidelines, restrictions on outdoor activities during peak sunlight hours).
About the Systematic Review
The Task Force finding is based on evidence from a Community Guide systematic review published in 2004 (Saraiya et al., one study with behavioral outcomes; search period January 1966 – June 2000) combined with more recent evidence (6 studies, search period June 2000 – May 2011). The systematic review was conducted on behalf of the Task Force by a team of specialists in systematic review methods, and in research, practice, and policy related to preventing skin cancer. This finding updates and replaces the 2001 Task Force finding on Education and Policy Approaches in Child Care Centers.
Updated Evidence (search period June 2000 – May 2011)
Included studies (6 studies, 7 study arms) evaluated intervention effects on various measures of sun protection and on physiological consequences of UV radiation exposure among children. These results were generally favorable across all of the outcomes.
- Sunscreen use
- Increase of 1.6 and 3.3 percentage points (2 studies, 3 study arms)
- Other measures of sunscreen use also showed favorable results (2 studies)
- Hat use
- Median increase of 8.1 percentage points (3 studies, 4 study arms)
- Other measures of hat use also showed favorable results (1 study)
- Clothing use
- Increase of 0.5 and 1.2 percentage points (1 study, 2 study arms)
- Other measures of clothing use also showed favorable results (1 study)
- Shade use while outdoors
- Increase of 8.6 percentage points (1 study)
- Sunburn incidence
- Decreases in the number of sunburn episodes ranged from -1.7 to -1.5 percentage points (1 study, 2 study arms)
Included studies also found overall favorable results for the following outcomes.
- Combined sun-protective behaviors (2 studies, 3 study arms)
- Excessive sun exposure (3 studies, 4 study arms)
- Incidence of new mole formation (1 study, 2 study arms)
Previous Review (search period January 1966- June 2000)
One study reported changes in behavioral outcomes and found the following.
- Mixed and nonsignificant effects on an index of sun protection behaviors:
- arms (mean increase of 0.3 points; p=0.23)
- legs (no change; p=0.95)
- head (mean decrease of -0.4 points; p=0.21)
- Nonsignificant effects on whether play occurs in sun, shade, or partial shade (p=0.21)
- Most of the studies in the updated search period evaluated broad-based interventions that combined educational, environmental, and policy components with educational efforts directed at parents or caregivers, staff, and children (4 studies).
- Two studies examined associations between policy implementation and outcomes of interest.
- Five studies reported children’s ages. In these settings, ages ranged from birth to 12 years, with a mean or median age group of 3 to 5 years.
- Five of the studies were conducted in pre-school settings.
Based on the settings and populations from included studies, results are applicable to:
- Daycare centers
- Nursery schools
- Play schools
Considerations for Implementation
The following considerations are drawn from studies included in the evidence review, the broader literature, and expert opinion.
- Due to limited resources and competing priorities, policies and practices are most likely to be implemented if they are easily adopted and enforced, and require little staff time.
- Child care centers should assess their sun protection practices, and enhance and formalize them to the extent possible.
- In light of staff turnover, regular booster training sessions may be necessary to sustain staff awareness and support of sun protection measures.
- Parental education and involvement is important in supporting effective implementation of sun protection practices in child care centers and increases the likelihood that parents will support similar sun protection practices in other settings (e.g., outdoor recreational facilities).
An economic review of this intervention was not conducted.
- Analytic Framework [PDF - 109.01 kB]
- Evidence Gaps
- Summary Evidence Table [PDF - 113.57 kB]
- Included Studies
- Search Strategy
Full peer-reviewed articles of this systematic review will be posted on the Community Guide website when published. Subscribe to be notified when we post these publications or other materials. See our library for previous Community Guide publications on this and other topics.
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The findings and conclusions on this page are those of the Community Preventive Services Task Force and do not necessarily represent those of CDC. Task Force evidence-based recommendations are not mandates for compliance or spending. Instead, they provide information and options for decision makers and stakeholders to consider when determining which programs, services, and policies best meet the needs, preferences, available resources, and constraints of their constituents.
The content of publications of the Guide to Community Preventive Services is in the public domain. Citation as to source, however, is appreciated. Sample citation: Guide to Community Preventive Services. Preventing skin cancer: child care center-based interventions. www.thecommunityguide.org/cancer/skin/education-policy/childcarecenters.html. Last updated: MM/DD/YYYY.
Review completed: May 2013