Adolescent Sun Protection Behaviors and Beliefs

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Roya S. Nazarian
Michael Pan
Sarah Utz
Lauren Geller


pediatric dermatology, photo protection, sun protection, melanoma, non melanoma skin cancer


The incidence of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer has increased among children and adolescents. Studies in the pediatric population have shown low rates of sun protection with modest improvement over the past several decades. This descriptive study characterizes photo protection behaviors and knowledge, specifically among pediatric dermatology patients in order to identify gaps in knowledge and guide discussion for health providers. Adolescents ages 12 to 20 completed surveys, which evaluated use of sun protection, beliefs about tanning and skin cancer, and sources of information. Results demonstrated that only nine percent of participants reported daily, year-round use of sunscreen. The majority (71%) reported use only during the summer months or when spending prolonged periods of time outdoors. Rates of indoor tanning were lower than reported in the literature, with only one percent reporting indoor tanning use. The majority of patients reported family members were the primary source of sun protection education. The authors conclude that while adolescents receiving care in the pediatric dermatology setting demonstrate sufficient knowledge about skin cancer prevention, adherence remains low. This study identified family members as the primary source of sun protection knowledge. Dermatologists should consider increased parental education to improve adolescent patient behavior.


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