Psychosocial characteristics associated with sun protection practices among parents of young children

J Behav Med. 2005 Feb;28(1):77-90. doi: 10.1007/s10865-005-2565-9.


Despite the importance of sun protection during childhood, many parents fail to adequately protect their children from the sun. The current study assessed sun-related knowledge, stage of change, and psychosocial characteristics of parents of young children. We examined how knowledge and psychosocial characteristics differed by stage of change, and tested a model of the relationship among demographics, knowledge, psychosocial variables, and child sun protection. Surveys were completed by 391 parents of preschool-aged children. Parent knowledge about skin cancer was relatively high and did not vary by stage of change. Parents in earlier stages of change perceived more barriers to child sun protection, had more positive beliefs about children's sun exposure, perceived their child to be less susceptible to sun damage, and had lower self-efficacy for child sun protection than did parents in later stages of change. In a path model, the strongest predictors of child sun protection were parents' own sun protection habits, perceived barriers, and self-efficacy. Results highlight the importance of parent psychosocial characteristics in predicting child sun protection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Day Care Centers
  • Child, Preschool
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Parents*
  • Psychology
  • Self Efficacy
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Sunburn / prevention & control*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires