Increasing Sun Protection in Winter Outdoor Recreation. A Theory-Based Health Communication Program

Barbara J. Walkosz, David B. Buller, Peter A. Andersen, Michael D. Scott, Mark B. Dignan, Gary R. Cutter, Julie A. Maloy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Background: Unprotected and excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is the primary risk factor for skin cancer. Design: A pair-matched, group-randomized, pre-test/post-test, quasi-experimental design, with ski resorts as the unit of randomization, tested the effectiveness of Go Sun Smart, a multi-channel skin cancer prevention program. Independent samples of guests were taken at baseline (2001) and follow-up (2002); data were analyzed in 2006. Setting and Participants: A total of 6516 adult guests at 26 ski areas in the western U.S. and Canada were recruited, consented, and interviewed on chairlifts. This study was nested within an occupational intervention for ski area workers. Intervention: Ski areas were pair-matched and randomized to receive Go Sun Smart, which consisted of print, electronic, visual, and interpersonal skin cancer prevention messages. Main Outcome Measures: Sun-protection behaviors, sunburning, recall of sun-protection messages, and the association of message exposure to sun protection. Results: The difference in recall of all sun-protection messages, messages on signs and posters, and the Go Sun Smart logo was significant between the intervention and control resorts. Reported use of sun-protection practices was higher by guests at intervention ski areas using more (a higher dose of) Go Sun Smart materials. Intervention-group guests who recalled a sun-safety message were more likely to practice sun safety than intervention-group guests who did not recall a message and control-group guests. Conclusions: While the mere implementation of Go Sun Smart did not produce sun-safety improvements, Go Sun Smart appeared to be effective for guests who encountered and remembered it. Many factors can work against message exposure. Signage seemed to produce the greatest increase in exposure to sun-safety messages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)502-509
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors also extend appreciation to the National Ski Areas Association, National Ski Patrol, Professional Ski Instructors of American, and American Association of Snowboard Instructors for their support. This project was funded by a grant from the National Cancer Institute (CA81028). The design; conduct of the study; interpretation of the data; and preparation, review, and approval of the manuscript were performed solely by the authors.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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