Sun protection and skin surveillance practices among relatives of patients with malignant melanoma: prevalence and predictors

Prev Med. 2004 Jul;39(1):36-47. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2004.02.028.


Background: Little is known about acceptance of skin cancer risk-reduction practices and attitudes among individuals with a family history of melanoma. The purpose of this study was to examine engagement in and correlates of sun protection, total cutaneous examination (TCE), and skin self-examination (SSE) among first-degree relatives (FDR) of individuals diagnosed with malignant melanoma (MM).

Method: First degree relatives (N = 229) completed measures of engagement in TCE, SSE, and habitual sun protection, as well as measures of knowledge and attitudes about all three behaviors.

Results: Slightly more than 50% of family members reported having TCE, and engagement in habitual sun protection was relatively low. Engagement in SSE was higher. Regression analyses revealed that physician recommendation and perceived barriers were consistent correlates of all three risk-reduction behaviors. Self-efficacy and normative influences were also associated with sun protection.

Conclusions: Engagement in skin cancer risk-reduction practices among individuals with a family history of melanoma is relatively low. Interventions to improve acceptance would benefit from targeting both nonpsychological and psychological factors, particularly physician influence and perceived barriers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / etiology
  • Melanoma / prevention & control*
  • Melanoma / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • New England / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Protective Clothing / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Self-Examination*
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Skin Neoplasms / psychology
  • Sunscreening Agents / administration & dosage*


  • Sunscreening Agents