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J Public Health (Oxf). 2004 Mar;26(1):31-3.

Reconnaissance study of sunbed use by primary school children in Lanarkshire.

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  • 1Public Health Medicine, Forth Valley NHS Board, 33 Spittal Street, Stirling FK8 1DX.



The aim of this study was to swiftly gain insight into anecdotal evidence that primary school children in local schools were using sunbeds.


A seven-question questionnaire was conducted by school nurses in 23 primary schools in the Wishaw Local Health Care Co-operative catchment area. Children in primary classes 4 (aged 8-9) and 6/7 (aged 10-11) took part in the classroom surveys. Positive responses were counted by a show of hands by the children.


A total of 1405 children took part in the survey. Of these, 48 per cent expressed a desire to use a sunbed and 7 per cent (96 children) had actually used a sunbed in the last 6 months. Of the 96 who professed to using a sunbed, 16 used one regularly, 61 gained access to a sunbed in someone's house, and 21 had used a sunbed in a shop or salon. Twenty-nine (30 per cent) admitted that they had suffered sore skin or sore eyes after sunbed use.


This preliminary survey suggests that a significant number of primary school children may be using tanning devices either in the home or on commercial premises. More rigorous research is urgently required to test these findings. The precautionary principle suggests that public action is justified on present evidence.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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