Relationship of parent-child sun protection among those at risk for and surviving with melanoma: Implications for family-based cancer prevention

Tara Coffin*, Yelena P. Wu, Darren Mays, Christine Marie Rini, Kenneth P. Tercyak, Deborah Bowen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Preventing melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, is an important cancer control priority. This is especially true among children living in families previously affected by the disease because the risks for melanoma typically begin early in life. These risks accrue into adulthood but may be mitigated by parental intervention. Melanoma prevention behaviors that could be associated between adults and their children include use of sunscreen, protective clothing, seeking shade, or limiting sun exposure. This study sought to investigate how parent perceptions and behaviors influence sun protection and avoidance behaviors in their children, among relatives of melanoma survivors. In this cross-sectional study, parents (N = 313), all relatives of people diagnosed with melanoma, were surveyed about their melanoma risk-reduction behaviors and efforts to protect their children from sun exposure. Linear multiple regressions examined associations among parental behaviors, beliefs, and their reports of risk reduction for their children. Parents who practiced high sun protection themselves (i.e., wearing protective clothing, avoiding the sun, using sunscreen) were significantly more likely to report their child also wore protective clothing (B = 0.04, p < .004). Findings suggest that parents' use of risk-reducing behavioral measures extended to protective measures among their children. These findings have implications for the clinical care of melanoma survivors' families, including the design of targeted interventions that alter parental beliefs and behaviors surrounding both their own and their children's cancer prevention strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-488
Number of pages9
JournalTranslational behavioral medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 16 2019


  • Health communication
  • Melanoma prevention
  • Primary care
  • Skin cancer risk
  • Sun avoidance
  • Sun protection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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