Klein Buendel Research Program Manager, Julia Berteletti, presented insights from a randomized controlled trial that tested a technical assistance program designed to help principals implement district sun safety policies in elementary schools at the 40th Annual Meeting and Scientific Sessions of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, March 6-9, 2019 in Washington, DC.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Surgeon General have advised the nation’s schools to adopt and implement sun protection policy to reduce children’s exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation to prevent skin cancer. A total of 118 elementary schools from 40 California public school districts that had adopted a school board-approved policy for sun safety were recruited and the principal and a teacher at each school reported on school sun protection practices at baseline and posttest.
Half of the schools were randomly assigned to receive the 20-month Sun Safe Schools intervention, delivered by trained Sun Safety Coaches who met with principals, described the district policy, helped them select and plan implementation of sun safety practices, and provided support and resources matched to the principal’s readiness to implement practices based on Diffusion of Innovation Theory. Control schools received a minimal information treatment containing basic school sun safety information from the CDC, the National Association of State Boards of Education, and U.S. Surgeon General.
Compared to controls, principals at intervention schools reported implementing more sun safety practices in general, whether present in the district’s written policy or not. Similarly, teachers at intervention schools reported implementing a larger number of sun safety practices in general, including practices in their district’s written policy or not, compared with control schools. Overall, the intervention was effective at increasing sun safety practices in public elementary schools. However, convincing school districts to adopt policies may be only the first step in improving sun safety practices becasue districts need to actively disseminate the new policy to schools and provide assistance and materials to facilitate implementation.
This research was supported by a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (HD074416; Dr. Kim Reynolds, Principal Investigator). Collaborators in addition to Julia Berteletti, include Dr. Kim Reynolds and Kim Massie from Claremont Graduate University in California; Dr. David Buller and Mary Buller from Klein Buendel; Dr. Jeff Ashley from Sun Safety for Kids in, California; and Dr. Richard Meenan from Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Oregon.