Sun protective behaviors and sunburn experiences in parents of youth ages 11 to 18

Prev Med. 2005 Jul;41(1):108-17. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2004.10.015. Epub 2004 Nov 26.


Background: Recent studies suggest that parental sun protective behaviors and communication influence their adolescents. However, there is limited information on sun protection for parents of adolescents.

Methods: A telephone-based, nationally representative prevalence study of sun exposure among youth, aged 11-18, and their parents living in households was conducted in 1998. Separate, independent responses were collected. Weighted prevalence estimates and 95% confidence intervals were estimated and presented for parents only (n = 1187).

Results: Approximately one-third of parents planned activities to avoid the sun and used sunscreen. Among parents who used sunscreen, 70% applied it while at the beach or pool, but not as often during other outdoor activities. Almost one-third of parents were participating in water or non-water recreational activities during their most serious sunburn. Differences in sun protection and sunburn experiences were observed by age, gender, sun sensitivity, race and ethnicity, and educational attainment.

Conclusions: Parents have adopted sun protection habits, but have not surpassed national sun-protection goals. Combined use of sun protection behaviors may reduce sunburn prevalence and number of incident skin cancers. These data may be useful for developing or enhancing current sun protection programs for effective sun protection that include parents and their adolescents.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Prevalence
  • Primary Prevention / methods
  • Probability
  • Protective Clothing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Factors
  • Sunburn / epidemiology*
  • Sunburn / prevention & control*
  • Sunscreening Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Sunscreening Agents