Primary schools in Wales encouraged to take part in sun safety study

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Job : Mon 18 Jul 2022

A researcher motivated by her son’s sunburn on a school sports day is encouraging primary schools in Wales to help develop sun safety guidelines for the spring and summer terms.

Dr Julie Peconi, from Swansea University, is leading a research project called ‘Sunproofed’ which aims to understand how primary schools in Wales are responding to rising rates of skin cancer and explore the effectiveness of policies solar safety in schools on knowledge and behavior.

The study was funded by Health and Care Research Wales.

Julie, a volunteer with the skin charity, Skin Care Cymru, saw the need for her research after learning about the growing problem of skin cancer in Wales and seeing the growing impact on the burden of work of dermatologists.

This, combined with her son’s sunburn during a sports day, motivated her to develop the Sunproofed study.

“Despite the idea that Wales is a ‘rainy’ country, sunburn and skin cancer are growing problems,” she said.

“According to the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit, the crude rate of melanoma skin cancer increased by 96.7% between 2002 and 2019. Severe sunburn in childhood greatly increases the risk of skin cancer later in life, teach school children about skin cancer prevention. and how to enjoy the sun safely makes sense.

“Sunproofed studies primary schools in Wales and how they are responding to these rising rates of skin cancer and how schools can help protect and educate children.

“We are asking all primary schools in Wales to complete a short survey to help us understand if schools have sun protection policies and what support schools need in this area.”

Once the survey data is collected, the research team will compare it to anonymized routine healthcare data to see if there is a link between school policies and healthcare contacts for sunburn. .

“After reviewing the data and conducting interviews with parents, teachers and children to identify potential barriers to teaching sun safety in schools, we will create a set of recommended best practice guidelines. for schools. Ultimately, the goal is for schools to help prevent sun damage to skin before it happens,” Julie said.

Sunproofed is a collaborative study involving other health and care research organizations in Wales, with team members based in the Swansea Trials Unit at the University of Swansea, analysts and data scientists from the SAIL data bank and Cardiff and Vale University Health Council.

Dr Rachel Abbott, consultant dermatologist at Cardiff and Vale Hospital, leads the clinical aspect of the study: “Children spend a lot of time at school playing and learning outside, and one One way to prevent skin cancer is to teach children in school how to protect themselves from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

“This study will champion prevention and teach the next generation about the dangers of overexposure and how they can safely enjoy the sun.”

Michael Bowdery, program manager at Health and Care Research Wales, said: “Preventing health problems before they happen is obviously better for everyone.

“A clear assessment of the current landscape in Wales in relation to school solar safety policies and the production of evidence-based guidance on the best methods of implementation are so important to enable Wales to moving towards preventing skin cancer, keeping people healthier for longer.

All primary schools in Wales will have received a survey link and you can encourage your child’s primary school to take part in this research by asking them to respond or emailing the team at study at [email protected] The survey is open until July 22.

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