Currently there is a lack of consciousness about sun effects and the importance of sun-protection behaviours in many Latin American countries. This may be due to the erroneous concept of skin colour as a natural protection against ultraviolet radiation and skin cancer. Colombia is not the exception to this problem; in fact, a reflection of this is the increasing number of skin cancer cases every year, affecting persons no matter their type of skin.
With this in mind, it is imperative to create educational programs in Latin populations to change concepts and generate long-lasting healthy behaviours, with the intention of reducing the number of skin cancer cases. To begin with any intervention, it is important to select the appropriate group. Since children spend a great part of their time outdoors, and sunburns in childhood are associated with melanoma, children can be considered a target group for an educational intervention about sun-protection. Moreover, knowing that learning processes during childhood can leave behaviours and habits for the rest of the life, this population becomes an ideal cohort.
In sum, knowing that UVR is currently considered the only preventable environmental cause for skin cancer (i.e. melanoma), and that behaviours and habits can be learned since childhood, education during childhood may be an important core task in skin cancer prevention.
A new tale / story about sun protection has been written in the format of a friendly short book with illustrations created by a children´s book designer. The study aims to evaluate the impact of this sun-tale in the learning processes and sun-protection behaviours in a cohort of children from second grade in a school of the city of Medellin, Colombia.
How will the study be conducted?
The children will be included in the study if they have between 6 and 8 years of age and if their parents give the consent to participate in the study.
First session: The research staff will perform a survey about sun-protection to the children during a class-day. A psychologist will design this survey. Once the surveys are completed, a tale about sun effects and sun-protection will be read to the children. At the end, there will be time for questions and answers. All the children will be given a copy of the sun tale to take home.
Second session: One week after the first session, the research staff will perform the same survey from the first session to the children. All the surveys will be collected the same day.
Third session: Three months after the first session, the research staff will perform the same survey from the first session to the children. All the surveys will be collected the same day. An additional survey will be performed to the teacher(s) in charge of the kids, as well as the parents or the person in charge of the child. This additional survey aims to evaluate if there are new sun-protection behaviours and habits.
Fourth session: Six months after the first session, the research staff will perform the same survey from the first session to the children, and the teacher´s and parent´s survey will also be sent.
All data will be collected in an Excel Microsoft Office 2007® (Microsoft corporation, Redmond, Washington, US) document. Data will be analysed using the software SPSS® version 22.0 (SPSS Inc; Chicago, Illinois, US).
This project is viable since it’s a low risk study and costs may not exceed the amount of the SKIN PACT Grant.
Success Criteria and Evaluation
We will evaluate the success of the study using surveys, which will be performed to the children, teachers and parents, at different time-points (before and after the initial sun tale intervention). With the acquired data, we will be able to determine if the intervention was appropriate and enough to create or generate sun-protection behaviours in the children of the cohort. If this is positive, the study can be shared with other educational institutions, to be considered for their inclusion in educational curriculums.
Results of this study will be published in an academic medical journal.