What influences university students' intentions to practice safe sun exposure behaviors?

J Adolesc Health. 2004 Dec;35(6):486-92. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2003.11.093.


Purpose: To apply Protection Motivation Theory to examine adolescents' intentions to perform safe sun exposure behaviors.

Methods: A total of 239 students (aged 18 to 22 years) from two British universities were recruited to the study. The majority of participants were white (68%), 29% were classified as Asian, and the remaining 3% were Afro-Caribbean. Participants completed a questionnaire comprising items examining the components of Protection Motivation Theory. Intention to perform safe sun exposure behaviors was examined by asking participants to indicate their agreement with five statements about future sun exposure behaviors.

Results: Hierarchical multiple regression analysis revealed that the threat appraisal components of Protection Motivation Theory were stronger predictors of intention to perform safe sun exposure behaviors (accounting for 15% of the variance) than the coping appraisal components (accounting for 3% of the variance). However, previous performance of similar behaviors emerged as the strongest overall predictor of intention to perform safe sun exposure behaviors (beta = -.514, p < .01), followed by perceived vulnerability to developing skin cancer (beta = .232, p < .01) and practicing skin and naevi self examination behaviors (beta = -.172, p < .01).

Conclusions: The results suggest that a strategic sun protection education campaign is necessary with the aim of encouraging adaptive sun behaviors by emphasizing the risk of skin cancer associated with sunburn.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation*
  • Self Efficacy
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Skin Neoplasms / psychology
  • Students* / psychology
  • Students* / statistics & numerical data
  • Sunburn / epidemiology
  • Sunburn / prevention & control*
  • Sunburn / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology