This paper reports on a systematic review of all published skin cancer primary prevention interventions aimed at improving the sun protection of children and adolescents, from 1980 to 2005. This was undertaken to inform the development of future social marketing campaigns for the prevention of skin cancer. Rather than reporting the findings of the review, in terms of conclusions drawn about the effectiveness of interventions, this paper focuses on the systematic review process itself - identifying and discussing the methodological difficulties that arose in conducting this review. These difficulties, from lack of information on the development and theoretical background of interventions through to lack of sufficient data to quantify study outcomes, severely limit our ability to draw conclusions as to the relative effectiveness of different types of programs. There is a need for authors to consistently provide the information that is necessary to enable a systematic comparison of interventions if we are to utilise published research to further our understanding of effective strategies and consequently improve practice.