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Keywords:

  • attitudes;
  • behaviours;
  • children;
  • knowledge;
  • sun exposure;
  • sun protection

Aim:  To describe and investigate the relationship among the sun-related knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of New Zealand primary schoolchildren and consider the roles of sex and school year level.

Methods:  A randomly selected, two-stage cluster sample of 488 children from 27 primary schools in five regions of New Zealand was surveyed regarding their sun-related knowledge, attitudes and behaviours. A scoring system was used to assign a knowledge, attitude and behaviour score to each child.

Results:  Although knowledge increased with school year level, there was a decline in sun protective attitudes and behaviours. There was little variation in knowledge, attitudes and behaviour between boys and girls, but sex–year level interactions were found for knowledge and behaviour. When considering children's knowledge, attitudes and behaviours simultaneously, knowledge was only significantly associated with behaviours when mediated by attitudes.

Conclusions:  When targeting child sun protection and skin cancer prevention programmes, a focus on attitudes towards sun exposure and a suntan may prove beneficial in influencing sun-related behaviours.