Promoting sunscreen use and sun-protective practices in NCAA athletes: Impact of SUNSPORT educational intervention for student-athletes, athletic trainers, and coaches

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Abstract

Background

Student-athletes (SAs) have an increased skin cancer risk on account of significant ultraviolet exposure; however, their sun-protective practices are suboptimal. A novel program, Stanford University Network for Sun Protection, Outreach, Research, and Teamwork (SUNSPORT), was designed to target SAs, coaches, and athletic trainers (ATs).

Objective

To measure the impact of educational intervention on sun protection beliefs and practices of SAs.

Methods

A survey of sun protection beliefs and practices was administered to National Collegiate Athletic Association athletes before and after intervention. SUNSPORT dermatologists educated SAs, coaches, and ATs regarding skin cancer risk and prevention methods. The main outcome was frequency of sunscreen use by SAs before versus after intervention.

Results

A total of 846 National Collegiate Athletic Association athletes were surveyed between September 23, 2012, and September 20, 2015. After intervention, significant increases were observed in sunscreen use 4 or more days per week by SAs (from 26% to 39% [P = .02]), SAs spoken to by their coach about sun safety (from 26% to 57% [P = .0001]), and SA recognition of higher skin cancer risk (from 54% to 67% [P = .04]).

Limitations

Intervention in only 1 West Coast university and no paired data.

Conclusions

Following the SUNSPORT intervention, SAs were significantly more likely to use sunscreen, especially if encouraged by their coach. This study emphasizes that education directed to SAs, ATs, and coaches can improve sun-protective practices in SAs.

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