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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

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

Sharon L Manne1*, Elliot J Coups1, Paul B Jacobsen2, Michael Ming3, Carolyn J Heckman4 and Stuart Lessin5

Author Affiliations

1 Cancer Prevention and Control Program, The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA

2 Department of Health Outcomes and Behavior, Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, Florida, USA

3 Department of Dermatology, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

4 Cancer Prevention and Control Program, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

5 Department of Medicine, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:122  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-122

Published: 21 February 2011

Abstract

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.