Children of melanoma survivors were more likely to wear hats and re-apply sunscreen after receiving a multimedia informational program designed specifically for them, according to findings published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention (2013;22:1813).
“The risk for children of melanoma survivors is almost doubled because of possible shared genotypic and phenotypic factors,” the study's lead author Ellen R. Gritz, PhD, Chair of Behavioral Science at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, said in a news release. “This study is the first to examine a sun protection intervention for children of melanoma survivors.”
In a randomized controlled trial, 340 melanoma survivors who had an eligible child age 12 or younger received either a targeted sun protection intervention (which included a DVD and booklets) or standard education (which included three health-related brochures on sun protection, physical activity, and nutrition). The survivors completed telephone interviews at baseline and at one and four months after the intervention.
The data showed that the intervention increased children's sunscreen reapplication at one month and use of wide-brimmed hats at four months. The findings also showed:
- The intervention improved survivors' hat/clothing “self-efficacy” at both follow-up assessments;
- At four months the intervention improved survivors' clothing intentions, knowledge, and outcome expectations for hats and clothing;
- Children's sun protection increased with survivors' intervention use; and
- There were no effects [with the intervention] on other behaviors or sunburns.
The greatest effect on sunscreen behavior was in survivors who had children younger than eight years old.
Another study coauthor Mary Tripp, PhD, MPH, also a researcher in the Department of Behavior Science, noted in the news release: “This is an important finding because children typically use less sunscreen than is recommended and reapplication improves sun protection.”
This research was funded by a grant from the American Cancer Society and supported by the National Cancer Institute.