Positive parenting helps encourage healthy sun habits in children

A program that helps parents talk to their children about skin cancer risks may promote sun-safe behaviors, especially when parents and children have a high-quality relationship, according to a report in the August issue of Archives of Dermatology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Approximately one in six individuals will develop skin cancer during his or her lifetime, according to background information in the article. The recent increase in skin cancer incidence has been attributed to various forms of high-risk sun exposure among young people, including sunbathing, inadequate use of sunscreen and other protective measures and the use of tanning beds or lamps. Recent preventive interventions have targeted children in school or community settings, but widespread rates of dangerous behaviors persist in young people.

Rob Turrisi, Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, and colleagues evaluated a parent-based intervention and assessed family characteristics that may contribute to the effectiveness of such a program in 469 parent-child pairs. Of those, 340 were assigned to the intervention group, in which parents received a handbook that encouraged them to communicate skin cancer risks, promote safe behaviors and discourage tanning, sunbathing and other high-risk activities. The other 129 were assigned to the control group. The children were all 9 to 12 years old, in fourth through sixth grade and from southern Idaho or eastern Tennessee. Forty-five days after parents in the intervention group received the handbook, children in both groups underwent an assessment in which they were asked questions about their sun-related habits and their family dynamics.

Among children who were in the intervention group, several family variables increased the effectiveness of the program. Children in the intervention who exhibited average levels of compliance--measured by how often they reported obeying their parents or follow

Contact: Vicki Fong
JAMA and Archives Journals

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