204055 Exposure to risk and susceptibility to skin cancer in a sample of college students

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Corey H. Brouse, EdD , Public Health, University of Massachusetts Amherst, New York, NY
Charles E. Basch, PhD , Department of Health and Behavior Studies, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY
Background: Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Risk for melanoma doubles after five sunburns, but many people still do not use sun block, and engage in indoor tanning exposing themselves to carcinogenic ultraviolet radiation.

Purpose: To improve understanding about college students' sun safety habits, barriers to using sun block, and opinions toward tanning and sun exposure.

Significance: There are gaps in current knowledge about skin cancer prevention and control reduction strategies in high risk college students.

Methods: An on-line survey was sent 153 undergraduate college students majoring in Health Promotion and Wellness yielding 138 responses (89.6%).

Findings: The majority of the respondents were female (79%) and Caucasian (94%). Most (88%) reportedly spent 3 or more hours outside between 10 am and 4 pm in the summer, yet only 17 % reported always using sun block during this time. Nearly half (41%) reported more than 10 sunburns in their life and 60% reported “going tanning” during the past year. The greatest reported barrier to sun block use was forgetting (84%). Most respondents felt it was better to have a tan to be pale, and 42% reported that they liked to have a "base" tan before getting a lot of sun.

Conclusions/Recommendations: This sample is at high risk for skin cancer due to exposure and susceptibility. Interventions among college students are needed. Based on the fact that the forgetting to use sun block was greatest barrier, methods to provide a cue to action warrant testing.

Learning Objectives:
Learning Objective 1: Attendees will recognize the extent of exposure to risk factors and susceptibility to skin cancer in college students with health related majors. Learning Objective 2: Attendees will be able to identify barriers to increasing sun block use and strategies for promoting sun block use that warrant testing.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted the study.
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.