Open Access Open Badges Research article

Be smart against cancer! A school-based program covering cancer-related risk behavior

Friederike Stölzel1*, Nadja Seidel1, Stefan Uhmann2, Michael Baumann1, Hendrik Berth3, Jürgen Hoyer2 and Gerhard Ehninger1

Author Affiliations

1 University Cancer Center at the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus Dresden, Fetscherstraße 74, 01307 Dresden, Germany

2 TU Dresden, Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Hohe Straße 53, 01187 Dresden, Germany

3 TU Dresden, Medical Faculty, Medical Psychology, Fetscherstraße 74, 01307 Dresden, Germany

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:392  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-392

Published: 23 April 2014



Several studies suggest that most school-age children are poorly informed about cancer risk factors. This study examines the effectiveness of the ‘Be smart against cancer’ (BSAC) program in promoting cancer awareness and intentions to engage in health-promoting behavior.


235 seventh-grade students were randomized to either the intervention (N = 152) or the wait-control group (N = 83). The intervention included the modules: “What is cancer?,” “Sun protection,” “Non smoking,” and “Physical activity, Healthy nutrition, and Limited alcohol consumption.” Outcomes measured at baseline and at the end of the one week BSAC program included knowledge of cancer and its behavioral risk factors, health-promoting intentions, and reported risk behavior.


BSAC was effective in increasing knowledge about cancer and risk factors for cancer (p < .001), as well as in increasing intentions to engage in health-promoting behavior (p < .001), independent of a student’s risk profile. Knowledge did not serve as a mediator for intention building.


The BSAC is an effective school-based program for raising awareness of cancer, associated risk factors and intentions to engage in cancer-preventive behavior. The results indicate that the effectiveness of BSAC is independent of a student’s risk profile. Therefore, it holds considerable promise as a broadly applicable program to raise cancer awareness and promote healthy behavior intentions.

Adolescence; Cancer prevention; School-based health promotion; Health protective behavior; Outcome evaluation