Psychosocial Characteristics Associated with Sun Protection Practices Among Parents of Young Children
Excessive sun exposure in the first 15 years of life has been shown to be a determinant risk factor for melanoma. This study was conducted on a randomly selected sample of 200 adolescents (13-14 years old) and 150 children (3 years old) in Marseille (South of France). Children and adolescents were examined and interviewed (mothers answered for young children). Our results show that a large number of highly sensitive children were not identified as such by their parents and most adolescents do not realize or at least admit being highly sun sensitive. Adequate sun protection measures were used in only 63% of 3-year-olds and 38% of adolescents. With reference to their constitutional skin sensitivity and taking into account their possible use of effective sun protection measures, 33% of the children and 62% of the adolescents were highly overexposed. Only good sun protection habits of the mother were predictive of acceptable sun exposure in children. In the adolescents the predictive variables were sun protection habits of the father and sunbathing only to obtain a tan. The main reason why adolescents sunbathed was embellishment. Conversely, most mothers said that they exposed their young children to the sun for health. Many adolescents and mothers were reasonably well informed but considered the risk of sun exposure to be exaggerated by the media. These results may be important to determine the targets of future melanoma prevention campaigns.