Sun-safe practices in U.S. youth and their parents

role of caregiver on youth sunscreen use
  • Vilma E Cokkinides
    Address correspondence to: Vilma Cokkinides, MSPH, PhD, Department of Epidemiology and Surveillance Research, American Cancer Society, 1599 Clifton Road, NE, Atlanta GA 30329, USA.
    Department of Epidemiology and Surveillance (Cokkinides, Cardinez), American Cancer Society, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

    Department of Cancer Control (O'Connel), American Cancer Society, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
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  • Martin A Weinstock
    DermatoEpidemiology Unit, Veterans Administration Medical Center (Weinstock), Providence, Rhode Island, USA

    Department of Dermatology, Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University (Weinstock), Providence, Rhode Island, USA
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  • Cheryll J Cardinez
    Department of Epidemiology and Surveillance (Cokkinides, Cardinez), American Cancer Society, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

    Department of Cancer Control (O'Connel), American Cancer Society, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
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  • Mary A O'Connel
    Department of Epidemiology and Surveillance (Cokkinides, Cardinez), American Cancer Society, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

    Department of Cancer Control (O'Connel), American Cancer Society, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
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      There is a limited understanding of the social influences, such as the role of parents on youth sun-safe practices, that may reduce the risk of developing skin cancer later in life.


      This study examined the degree of correlation in sun-safe practices between youth and their parents and assessed independent parental factors of youth sunscreen use in a 1998 cross-sectional, population-based telephone survey of U.S. youth (11- to 18-year-olds) and their parents/caregivers (N=1192 pairs of youth and parents).


      Sunscreen-use practices between youth and their parents were significantly correlated, albeit small. Youth were significantly more likely to use sunscreen frequently if their parents applied it frequently on themselves. Multivariate analysis revealed three independent parental factors associated with frequent youth sunscreen use: Their parent reported to insist frequently that the child uses sunscreen (adjusted prevalence odds ratio [aPOR]=2.4, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.6–3.8); parent reported no difficulty with protecting their child from the sun (aPOR=1.4, 95% CI, 1.1–1.9); and parent's own frequency of sunscreen use (aPOR=1.3, 95% CI, 0.9–1.8).


      Sun-safe practices were correlated between parent–child pairs and parental factors exerted a positive role on youth sunscreen-use frequency. These data may guide further sociobehavioral and intervention research for the design of skin cancer prevention programs in schools and communities to improve levels of sun-safe practices.
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