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Prev Med. 2001 Sep;33(3):141-51.

Sun exposure and sun-protection behaviors and attitudes among U.S. youth, 11 to 18 years of age.

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Department of Epidemiology and Surveillance, American Cancer Society, Atlanta, Georgia 30329-4251, USA.



Adolescence is a high-risk period for the development of melanoma and nonmelanocytic skin cancers later in life. This study examines the prevalence and correlates of sun-protection practices among U.S. youth.


During July-October, 1998, a national, population-based telephone survey was conducted (N = 1,192 paired interviews of youth and their parents). Weighted prevalence and adjusted prevalence odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were estimated. Multiple logistic regression analyses examined associations between sociodemographics, attitudes, and other modifiable correlates to specific behaviors.


Routinely practiced sun-protection behaviors among youth on sunny days were wearing sunglasses (32%) or long pants (21%), staying in the shade (22%), and applying sunscreen (31%). Fifty-eight percent used a sunscreen with SPF > or =15 when at the beach or pool. Age, sex, and sun sensitivity were associated with substantial variation in some sun-protection behaviors. Factors associated with specific sun-protection behaviors included a lower appeal to tanning, a higher perceived benefit of sun protection, and information from family and friends about sun protection.


Effective sun protection is practiced by less than one-third of U.S. youth. This baseline survey will help to monitor progress in skin cancer prevention in this critical age group in the future.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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