Examination of the Short-Term Efficacy of a Parent-Based Intervention to Prevent Skin Cancer

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The research evaluated an intervention strategy designed to prevent skin cancer in young adolescents. The intervention used parents as change agents to effectively communicate the risks of skin cancer and encourage their children to avoid high-risk sun-related behaviors while increasing positive sun-safe behaviors. Three hundred and forty parents in two regions of the United States were educated about the dangers of risky sun behaviors and how to convey information about skin cancer prevention to their children. Parents were then encouraged to talk with their children about these issues over a 1-month period prior to the onset of summer. Following this time period, children whose parents received and implemented the intervention materials were compared with a control sample of 129 children. These two groups were matched on age, gender, and school on number of sunburns and sunburn severity, attitudes and beliefs, and sunbathing behavior. Children in the treatment condition differed significantly from controls in the predicted directions on all outcome variables. The findings are discussed in terms of reducing skin cancer risk behaviors of children via parent-based intervention approaches.