Background: Adolescence is a high-risk period for the development of melanoma and nonmelanocytic skin cancers later in life. This study examines the prevalence and correlates of sun-protection practices among U.S. youth.
Methods: During July-October, 1998, a national, population-based telephone survey was conducted (N = 1,192 paired interviews of youth and their parents). Weighted prevalence and adjusted prevalence odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were estimated. Multiple logistic regression analyses examined associations between sociodemographics, attitudes, and other modifiable correlates to specific behaviors.
Results: Routinely practiced sun-protection behaviors among youth on sunny days were wearing sunglasses (32%) or long pants (21%), staying in the shade (22%), and applying sunscreen (31%). Fifty-eight percent used a sunscreen with SPF > or =15 when at the beach or pool. Age, sex, and sun sensitivity were associated with substantial variation in some sun-protection behaviors. Factors associated with specific sun-protection behaviors included a lower appeal to tanning, a higher perceived benefit of sun protection, and information from family and friends about sun protection.
Conclusion: Effective sun protection is practiced by less than one-third of U.S. youth. This baseline survey will help to monitor progress in skin cancer prevention in this critical age group in the future.
Copyright 2001 American Health Foundation and Academic Press.