200775 Family communication constraints as health intervention challenge: Parent-child conversation about indoor tanning

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 10:30 AM

Laura M. Friedenberg , School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Yajin Wang , School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
T.C. Kelvin Choi , School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Brian G. Southwell, PhD , School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
DeAnn Lazovich, PhD , Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Health communication scholars have begun to focus on family interaction as a site for intervention. Such communication is particularly relevant to indoor tanning because of its negative consequences and the significance of parental influences.

The goal of this formative research is to describe the nature of parent-child communication on health issues as illustrated with indoor tanning, and identify the perceived barriers for effective parent-child communication on the topic.

Six focus groups of teenagers, ages 14-17, and two focus groups of parents were convened to yield ideas about the extent to which parent-child conversation in general, and about indoor tanning specifically, occur, and the perceived barriers to these conversations. Transcripts of the focus groups were analyzed by two independent coders.

Our results showed that all participants generally agreed that talking with their family about health topics can be important; however, discussions on health topics were generally sporadic. Such conversations did not appear to occur comfortably even though the majority of participants reported positive attitudes toward family conversations about health. These conversations mostly relied on specific event triggers. In the absence of these triggers, parent-child conversation is scant due to low personal relevance and/or self-efficacy, and a perceived lack of credible information on indoor tanning.

Intervention to frame the topic as relevant to families' everyday lives and to improve parent and child perceptions of self-efficacy regarding talking about health topics such as indoor tanning seems a fruitful next step.

Learning Objectives:
1. Explain why understanding family communication patterns is relevant for public health practitioners and interventions. 2. Describe the current constraints in family communication related to health issues such as indoor tanning, as discussed in our focus groups. 3. Identify events that serve as triggers to family communication about indoor tanning, as noted by focus group participants.

Keywords: Adolescent Health, Health Communications

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have studied interpersonal communication and its effect on mass communication campaigns. I have worked with statewide public health campaign efforts. I am currently a Master's student in mass communication, working toward achieving a minor in public health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.