Communicating environmental health risks to the general public: An examination of an information intervention for ultraviolet radiation

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

Western Social Science Association meeting


Environmental education programs such as Sunwise, sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, are designed to educate school children, teachers and parents about risks of ultraviolet radiation. This paper examines the extent to which alternative informational interventions change risk reduction behaviors both for individuals and their children. Using two versions of a survey questionnaire, one with and one without graphic pictures of adverse impacts of excessive exposure to the sun, we obtained over 350 responses from members of nonprofit groups with diverse demographic backgrounds in Las Vegas, Nevada. Our survey asks respondents to report anticipated changes in behavior, economic values and other socioeconomic information. Respondents had the opportunity to complete a follow up survey two weeks later. Using univariate and multivariate statistical analyses, we find that pictures appear to make a significant difference in responses at the time of intervention, and that these differences remain several weeks later.


Communication in public health; Public health; Skin – Cancer – Prevention; Ultraviolet radiation – Health aspects; Ultraviolet radiation – Safety measures – Study and teaching




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