Correlates of Sun Protection and Sunburn in Children of Melanoma Survivors


      Sunburns during childhood increase melanoma risk. Children of melanoma survivors are at higher risk, but little is known about their sunburn and sun protection. One study showed that almost half of melanoma survivors’ children experienced sunburn in the past year. This study evaluated sunburn and sun protection in melanoma survivors’ children, and relevant survivor characteristics from Social Cognitive Theory and the Health Belief Model.


      Melanoma survivors (N=340) were recruited from a comprehensive cancer center. Survivors completed a baseline questionnaire administered by telephone to report on the behavior of their children (N=340) as part of an RCT of a sun protection intervention. Data were collected in 2008 and analyzed in 2015.


      In the prior 6 months, 28% of children experienced sunburn. “Always” or “frequent” sun protection varied by behavior: sunscreen, 69%; lip balm, 15%; wide-brimmed hats, 9%; sleeved shirts, 28%; pants, 48%; sunglasses, 10%; shade, 33%; and limiting time outdoors, 45%. Survivors’ sunburn and sun protection were positively associated with these outcomes in children. Correlates of sunburn also included older child age and higher risk perceptions. Correlates of sun protection behaviors included younger child age; stronger intentions, higher self-efficacy, and more positive outcome expectations about sun protection; and greater number of melanomas in survivors.


      Melanoma survivors may have a heightened awareness of the importance of their children’s sun protection, but their children are not routinely protected. Correlates of children’s sunburn and sun protection suggest subgroups of survivors to target with interventions to improve sun protection.
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