HIDE’N’SEEK – Skin Cancer Environmental Risk Factors: Sun Exposure Behaviors In Children And Parental Attitudes Within Urban Settings – A Comparative Pilot Study In Romania And Slovakia 2009-2010

The aim of this pilot study is to comparatively examine excessive sun exposure, as well as sunburn and sun protection behaviors of children aged 3-6, within two urban communities in Romania and Slovakia. Understanding these behaviors, as well as exploring possible explanations for the behaviors, would help improve the rates of healthy sun behaviors, and ultimately lower the environmental risks of skin cancer. Skin cancer rates have been increasing world-wide, but scarce data is available in Eastern European countries. Sun and ultraviolet exposure are the main exogenous causes of skin cancer, thus they represent core environmental public health issues. The purpose of this study is to comparatively describe children’s sun exposure behaviors in two urban communities, identify determinants of the behavior and develop guidelines for an intervention. The aim of this pilot study is to comparatively examine excessive sun exposure, sunburn and sun protection behaviors of children aged 3-6. The settings are two urban communities in Cluj-Napoca, Romania and Bratislava, Slovakia. The cross-sectional study will have a quantitative approach and will explore identified patterns and their relationship with parents’ education, socioeconomic status, and sunburn history, family history of skin cancer, sun exposure and sun protection attitudes. The study will also investigate dimensions as parents’ perceived benefits, barriers, and self efficacy in protective behaviors as well as perceived risk and severity of excessive sun exposure of their children. The final step of the project involves developing empirically based guidelines for promoting healthy sun behaviors for Romanian and Slovak kindergarten children.

Specific objectives:
– to identify children’s sun-related behaviors (sun exposure intensity and patterns, protection and burns) in two cluster samples from each of two urban communities from Romania (Cluj-Napoca) and Slovakia (Bratislava) by using a self-administered questionnaire for parents, in a one year time frame
– to explore intra-country possible relationships between children’s sun-related behaviors and parents’ socioeconomic status, sun-related attitudes, skin cancer history and knowledge
– to identify parents’ perceived benefits, barriers, and self efficacy in protective behaviors as well as perceived risk and severity of excessive sun exposure of their children
– to conduct an inter-country comparison of the results, in order to identify common trends and major differences
– to develop for each studied community a set of customized guidelines – SBG (Sun Behavior Guidelines) for promoting healthy sun behaviors of kindergarten children in a two months time interval.

Coordinator: Babes-Bolyai University from Cluj-Napoca

Funder:  University of Iowa International Training and Research in Occupational and Environmental Health (ITREOH) Program, funded by the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Total budget: 5.000 USD

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