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Child sun protection in New Zealand: parental view and societal responsibilities
Health Promotion Journal of Australia: Official Journal of Australian Association of Health Promotion Professionals
Date de publication
Issue addressed: Cutaneous melanoma is a significant health problem in New Zealand. Excessive sun exposure in early life increases subsequent risk. This study investigated parental opinions, understanding and practices concerning the sun protection of young children. The study aimed to identify areas where improvements in sun protection may be most needed. Methods: Parents were recruited through licensed childcare centres and kindergartens in Dunedin to take part in semi-structured focus groups. Feedback was obtained from participants in response to summary reports based on audiotapes. Results: Parents noted increased social acceptability of sun protective behaviours and child sunburn was now unacceptable. Past media campaigns were well recalled. The 'time to burn' used in media weather reports was easier to understand than the Ultra Violet Index (UVI), about which more information was wanted. Protective messages were expected to be straightforward, consistent and readily and regularly available. Local radio may provide the most timely, relevant information. There was a perceived lack of authoritative information about sunscreens and sunglasses and a shortage of acceptable protective clothing. Fuller information on sunscreen containers and greater use of UV Protection Factor (UPF) ratings for clothing and Eye Protection Factor (EPF) for sunglasses would assist. The use of shade and rescheduling of activities were scarcely mentioned. Conclusions: Parents were aware of the need for child sun protection but lacked confidence about how best to achieve this. Future health promotion programs should emphasise how optimal protection can be achieved more than why sun protection is needed. Programs should include a repertoire of strategies targeted towards individuals through the education of children and caregivers. They should also aim at achieving modifications in physical and social environments, including appropriate product design and promotion. So what?: The development of a balanced, comprehensive program with environmental components that reinforce protective behaviours has the potential to sustain sun protection among the largest number of children in the longer term.
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