Methods: Baseline surveys were completed with principals to assess awareness of school district sun safety policy, sun safety practices at the school, perceived skin cancer risk and importance of sun safety practices, demographics and, experience in education (e.g., years as principal). Ninety-two elementary schools were recruited with principals completing the baseline survey. Schools had a mean enrollment of 576 students, 56% of students received free/reduced price meals, 10% were English proficient, and 58% were Hispanic. Participating principals were predominately female (72%), white (74%), and non-Hispanic (78%), with a median age of 47 years, 20 years teaching in public education, and three years as principal in their district.
Results: Only 37% of principals were aware of their district board sun safety policy. Variables potentially associated with awareness of district policy were examined using SAS Proc Glimmix and included student characteristics (e.g., ethnicity, percent English proficiency) and principal’s experience in education, perceived importance of sun safety, perceived skin cancer risk, skin type (i.e., UV sensitivity) and demographics. For the item “Compared to other principals in California, I am more likely to get skin cancer” (1 strongly disagree, 5 strongly agree) principals aware of the policy had a lower perceived risk (X = 2.4) compared to those not aware of it (X=3.6; p<.06). For percent enrollment of white Non-Hispanic students (p<.08), principals reporting no awareness of the district policy were in schools with an enrollment of 24% white students and principals aware of the district sun safety policy were in schools with an enrollment of 36% white students.
Conclusions: Results suggest that levels of awareness about district sun safety policy are low among elementary school principals. Further, low awareness levels were largely evident across subgroups of principals and school characteristics, implying a need to intervene widely to enhance awareness and implementation of sun safety policy.