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Scottish adolescents' sun-related behaviours, tanning attitudes and associations with skin cancer awareness: a cross-sectional study

Kyle, Richard G; Macmillan, Iona; Forbat, Liz; Neal, Richard D; O'Carroll, Ronan E; Haw, Sally; Hubbard, Gill


Richard G Kyle

Iona Macmillan

Liz Forbat

Richard D Neal

Ronan E O'Carroll

Sally Haw

Gill Hubbard


To describe Scottish adolescents’ sun-related behaviours and tanning attitudes and assess associations with skin cancer awareness.

Cross-sectional study.

20 state secondary schools in one Scottish local authority (Glasgow City).

2173 adolescents (females: 50.7%, n=1102) with a mean age of 12.4 (SD=0.55).

Outcome measures
Sun-related behaviour (suntan, sunbathing, sunburn, sunscreen use, sunbed use), tanning attitudes, skin cancer-related symptom and risk factor awareness.

Adolescents reported poor sun-related practice: 51% of adolescents reported sunburn the previous summer of whom 38% indicated sunburn on more than one occasion. Skin cancer awareness was low: 45% recognised ‘change in the appearance of a mole’ as a cancer symptom, and 39% agreed that ‘getting sunburnt more than once as a child’ increased cancer risk. 42% and 26% of adolescents, respectively, reported that friends and family held protanning attitudes. Compared with males, females were statistically significantly more likely to: report sunbathing (p<0.001), use of lotions or oil to aid tanning (p=0.009) and sunburn (p<0.001); know that changes in the appearance of a mole was a skin cancer symptom (p=0.036) and sunburn more than once as a child was a skin cancer risk factor(p=0.005); perceive their friends to hold protanning attitudes (p<0.001) and indicate that a tan made them feel better about themselves (p<0.001), mor eattractive to others (p=0.011) and healthier (p<0.001).

Scottish adolescents had poor sun protection practice and low skin cancer awareness. Girls adopted riskier sun-related behaviour despite greater awareness of skin cancer-related risk. Urgent action is required to promote positive sun-related behaviour and increase skin cancer awareness among Scottish adolescents. However, further research is needed to inform the development of effective sun-safe interventions.


Kyle, R. G., Macmillan, I., Forbat, L., Neal, R. D., O'Carroll, R. E., Haw, S., & Hubbard, G. (2014). Scottish adolescents' sun-related behaviours, tanning attitudes and associations with skin cancer awareness: a cross-sectional study. BMJ Open, 4,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 14, 2014
Online Publication Date May 2, 2014
Publication Date May 2, 2014
Deposit Date Jan 19, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jan 19, 2015
Print ISSN 2044-6055
Electronic ISSN 2044-6055
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 4
Article Number e005137
Keywords Suntan; tanning; skin cancer; adolescents; Scotland; sun protection
Public URL
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Scottish Adolescents' Sun-related Behaviours, Tanning Attitudes And Associations With Skin Cancer Awareness: A Cross-sectional Study (<nobr>786 Kb</nobr>)

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Copyright Statement
This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 3.0) license

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