To establish a national baseline regarding pediatricians' sun protection counseling perceptions and behaviors.
A survey was mailed to a random sample of 600 pediatricians selected from the 1996 American Academy of Pediatrics Directory using a 3-wave mailing technique to maximize the response rate. The 3-wave mailing resulted in 414 returned surveys of 583 surveys (17 surveys were nondeliverable) (a 71% response rate).
Most (60%) of the pediatricians lacked formal training on how to counsel parents and children about sun protection. Approximately 3 (78%) of 4 indicated that not enough time was spent in their residency program on how to educate parents and children about sun protection. Greater than half (60%) of the respondents indicated that they usually (47%) or always (13%) counseled about sun protection. Seventy-seven percent of the respondents indicated that pediatricians have a professional responsibility to counsel parents and children about sun protection.
The results of this investigation suggest that most pediatricians surveyed believed that they had a professional responsibility to counsel about sun protection and that such counseling would be effective in decreasing skin cancer and the number of sunburns. Although most had not had training on sun protection counseling in their residency program, 6 of 10 indicated that they usually or always counseled about sun protection. Sun protection counseling training in residency programs can potentially extend pediatricians' knowledge of skin cancer and the importance of a broad spectrum of preventive measures, as well as increase their ability to counsel about such measures.Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997;151:1133-1138