Sunscreen application thickness amongst primary school children : the children and sunscreen study

Hamilton, Abbey (2011) Sunscreen application thickness amongst primary school children : the children and sunscreen study. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Childhood sun exposure has been associated with increased risk of developing melanoma later in life. Sunscreen, children.s preferred method of sun protection, has been shown to reduce skin cancer risk. However, the effectiveness of sunscreen is largely dependent on user compliance, such as the thickness of application. To reach the sun protection factor (SPF) sunscreen must be applied at a thickness of 2mg/cm2. It has been demonstrated that adults tend to apply less than half of the recommended 2mg/cm2. This was the first study to measure the thickness at which children apply sunscreen. We recruited 87 primary school aged children (n=87, median age 8.7, 5-12 years) from seven state schools within one Brisbane education district (32% consent rate). The children were supplied with sunscreen in three dispenser types (pump, squeeze and roll-on) and were asked to use these for one week each. We measured the weight of the sunscreen before and after use, and calculated the children.s body surface area (based on height and weight) and area to which sunscreen was applied (based on children.s self-reported body coverage of application). Combined these measurements resulted in an average thickness of sunscreen application, which was our main outcome measure. We asked parents to complete a self-administered questionnaire which captured information about potential explanatory variables. Children applied sunscreen at a median thickness of 0.48mg/cm2, significantly less than the recommended 2mg/cm2 (p<0.001). When using the roll-on dispenser (median 0.22mg/cm2), children applied significantly less sunscreen thickness, compared to the pump (median 0.75mg.cm2, p<0.001), and squeeze (median 0.57mg/cm2, p<0.001) dispensers. School grade (1-7) was significantly associated with thickness of application (p=0.032), with children in the youngest grades applying the most. Other variables that were significantly associated with the outcome variable included: number of siblings (p=0.001), household annual income (p<0.001), and the number of lifetime sunburns the child had experienced (p=0.007). This work is the first to measure children.s sunscreen application thickness and demonstrates that regardless of their age or the type of dispenser that they use, children do not apply enough sunscreen to reach the advertised SPF. It is envisaged that this study will assist in the formulation of recommendations for future research, practice and policy aimed at improving childhood sun protection to reduce skin cancer incidence in the future.

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ID Code: 49039
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Janda, Monika, Neale, Rachel, & Kimlin, Michael
Keywords: amount, application, australia, brisbane, children, dispenser, thickness, primary school, quantity, Queensland, school, sunscreen, sun protection, ultraviolet radiation, UV, UVR, youth
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 08 Mar 2012 01:29
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2017 14:41

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