Sun protection policies and practices at child care centres in Massachusetts.

Kenfield, S.A., Geller, A.C., Richter, E.M., Shuman, S., O’Riordan, D., Koh, H.K., & Colditz, G.A. (2005). Sun protection policies and practices at child care centres in Massachusetts. Journal of Community Health, 30(6), 491-503.

We assessed the relationship between sun protection policies and practices at child care centers in Massachusetts. We hypothesized that centers with sun protection policies were more likely to have regular sun protection practices in place compared to centers without these policies. We conducted a telephone survey with directors or assistant directors at 327 child care centers during the summer of 2002. The main outcome measure was sun protection practices, which included time spent outside during mid-day and the use of sunscreen, hats, and protective clothing by the majority of children assessed over the last 5 program days. The 36-item survey also inquired about the center’s sun protection policy and included demographic questions. Most centers (73%) reported having a written sun protection policy. Sun protection policies were positively associated with reported sunscreen (v2=14.63, p = 0.0001) and hat use (v2=30.98, p < 0.0001) and inversely associated with time outside (v2=10.76, p = 0.001). Seventy-seven percent of centers followed recommended sunscreen practices. However, centers were far less likely to have recommended hat use (36%) and protective clothing (1.5%) practices. A formal sun protection policy may be an effective way to increase sun protection practices in the child care setting. Further research should assess this relationship in other states. Improving and expanding existing state regulations may be a reasonable strategy to increase sun protection at child care centers. 

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