Sun protection and sunbathing practices among at-risk family members of patients with melanoma

BMC Public Health. 2011 Feb 21;11:122. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-11-122.


Background: Despite the increased level of familial risk, research indicates that family members of patients with melanoma engage in relatively low levels of sun protection and high levels of sun exposure. The goal of this study was to evaluate a broad range of demographic, medical, psychological, knowledge, and social influence correlates of sun protection and sunbathing practices among first-degree relatives (FDRs) of melanoma patients and to determine if correlates of sun protection and sunbathing were unique.

Methods: We evaluated correlates of sun protection and sunbathing among FDRs of melanoma patients who were at increased disease risk due to low compliance with sun protection and skin surveillance behaviors. Participants (N = 545) completed a phone survey.

Results: FDRs who reported higher sun protection had a higher education level, lower benefits of sunbathing, greater sunscreen self-efficacy, greater concerns about photo-aging and greater sun protection norms. FDRs who reported higher sunbathing were younger, more likely to be female, endorsed fewer sunscreen barriers, perceived more benefits of sunbathing, had lower image norms for tanness, and endorsed higher sunbathing norms.

Conclusion: Interventions for family members at risk for melanoma might benefit from improving sun protection self-efficacy, reducing perceived sunbathing benefits, and targeting normative influences to sunbathe.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Melanoma / genetics
  • Melanoma / prevention & control*
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk
  • Skin Neoplasms / genetics
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Sunbathing*
  • Sunburn / prevention & control*
  • Sunscreening Agents / therapeutic use*


  • Sunscreening Agents