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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), more attractive 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.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 14, 2014
Online Publication Date May 2, 2014
Publication Date 2014-05
Deposit Date Jan 19, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jan 19, 2015
Electronic ISSN 2044-6055
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 4
Issue 5
Article Number e005137
Keywords Suntan; tanning; skin cancer; adolescents; Scotland; sun protection
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date Jan 19, 2015


Scottish Adolescents' Sun-related Behaviours, Tanning Attitudes And Associations With Skin Cancer Awareness: A Cross-sectional Study (786 Kb)

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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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