Journal Article

Impacts from repeated mass media campaigns to promote sun protection in Australia

Ben J. Smith, Claire Ferguson, Jeanie McKenzie, Adrian Bauman and Philip Vita

in Health Promotion International

Volume 17, issue 1, pages 51-60
Published in print March 2002 | ISSN: 0957-4824
Published online March 2002 | e-ISSN: 1460-2245 | DOI:
Impacts from repeated mass media campaigns to promote sun protection in Australia

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Campaigns using television, radio and print media were conducted over three summers in New South Wales, Australia, aiming to increase the use of sun protection measures among children under 12 years. The evaluation entailed cross-sectional telephone surveys before and after each of the first two campaigns and following the third campaign. The study group were parents of children under 12 years. Random digit dialling yielded samples of approximately 800 for each survey. Measures addressed campaign recall and sun protection knowledge, attitudes and behaviours. The surveys revealed significant levels of campaign recall. Knowledge about the protective benefits of sunscreens, hats and protective clothing was high at baseline and showed little improvement over the campaigns. Knowledge levels about the benefits of shade cover and of the relative risks of skin cancer from childhood sun exposure were lower, and also did not show improvement. Just one of the four attitude factors showed significant improvement, and this concerned the importance that parents placed on the issue of child sun protection. After the final campaign there were increases compared with baseline in childrens' use of sunscreen, protective clothing and shade, but it was notable that between campaigns levels of these behaviours were similar to or below those at baseline. There was no evidence of a campaign-related increase in hat wearing by children. All sun protection measures were used less often by adults than children, but these showed similar trends. Mass media campaigns may contribute to short-term increases in some sun protection behaviours; however, as their impact is not sustained they should be repeated and supplemented by educational, policy and environmental strategies.

Keywords: Australia; campaigns; media; sun protection

Journal Article.  5280 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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