Physician sun protection counseling: prevalence, correlates, and association with sun protection practices among US adolescents and their parents, 2004

Prev Med. 2010 Aug;51(2):172-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2010.05.003. Epub 2010 May 15.


Objective: To assess the population prevalence and correlates of ever receiving physician advice to practice sun protection (i.e. sun protection counseling) and whether such counseling is associated with sun protection behaviors in adolescents and their parents.

Method: Analysis of a nationally representative cross-sectional telephone survey of ultraviolet radiation exposure behaviors among US adolescents ages 11 to 18 and their parents, conducted between August and November 2004.

Results: Forty-four percent of US adolescents and their parents reported physician sun protection counseling. Counseling was more frequently reported by adolescents whose parents were also counseled, reported other sun protection information sources (skin cancer prevention media messages and school sun safety messages), had first degree relatives with skin cancer, and were white, non-Hispanic. Counseling was positively associated with regular sunscreen use, appropriate sunscreen application practices, and intermittent hat use, but not with other recommended behaviors. Sunscreen use rates were generally higher among adolescents reporting several sun protection information sources (counseling, media and school messages) than those with combinations of two or fewer of these sources.

Conclusions: The role of physicians, either independently or in concert with other information sources, should be explored in strategies promoting primary skin cancer prevention behaviors among adolescents and parents.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Counseling*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Parents
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Primary Prevention / methods*
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Sunburn / prevention & control*
  • Sunscreening Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects
  • United States


  • Sunscreening Agents