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Young students�?? knowledge about sun protection and its relation with sunburn incidence. a systematic review

Rekleiti Maria

Background: Excessive sun exposure of children and adolescents can be a risk factor for skin cancer later in life. Sun protection measures can protect a person from such conditions and also sunburns that, especially if they occur repetitively in childhood, may lead to melanomas. The aim of the present study was to explore young people’s knowledge level regarding sun-related risk, sun protection measures and sunburn incidence. Correlation between knowledge level and sunburn incidence was also explored. Μethod and Material: International and Greek literature was reviewed using data bases and search engines such as Medline, Cochrane Library, Google Scholar, Scirus and Scopus. Only studies published from 2002 until today were included in the review. Results: Knowledge level of 9 – 20 years old students was investigated by reviewing 15 relative studies from all over the world. Overall knowledge levels were found to be as high as >50%, with girls and older students scoring higher than younger students in terms of knowledge levels. In some countries (USA, Australia) scores were even higher, but this should be attributed to continuous educational programs and interventions. More specifically, higher knowledge levels were found for sunscreen use (>60%), and potential skin damage after prolonged sun exposure (>50%). On the other hand, sunburn incidence shows significant variations depending on the country. Finally, correlation between knowledge level and sunburn incidence was not found to have any statistical significance, although in several studies students with higher knowledge level do not show high sunburn incidence rates. Conclusions: Continuous, targeted and age-appropriate educational programs, both at school and in the community, could help to increase knowledge levels and more importantly change attitudes and lead younger people to adopt a wiser behavior regarding solar radiation and sun protection measures.