Prospective study of sunburn and sun behavior patterns during adolescence

Stephen W. Dusza*, Allan C. Halpern, Jaya M. Satagopan, Susan A. Oliveria, Martin A. Weinstock, Alon Scope, Marianne Berwick, Alan C. Geller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: Early childhood UV light radiation (UVR) exposures have been shown to be associated with melanoma development later in life. The objective of this study was to assess sunburn and changes in sunburn and sun behaviors during periadolescence. METHODS: A prospective, population-based study was conducted in fifthgrade children (∼10 years of age) from Framingham, Massachusetts. Surveys were administered at baseline (September-October 2004) and again 3 years later (September-October 2007). Surveys were analyzed to assess prevalence of reported sunburn and sun behaviors and to examine changes in response over the follow-up period. RESULTS: Data were analyzed from 360 participants who had complete information regarding sunburn at both time points. In 2004, ∼53% of the students reported having at least 1 sunburn during the previous summer, and this proportion did not significantly change by 2007 (55%, P = .79), whereas liking a tan and spending time outside to get a tan significantly increased (P < .001). In 2004, 50% of students reported "often or always" use of sunscreen when outside for at least 6 hours in the summer; this proportion dropped to 25% at the followup evaluation (P < .001). CONCLUSIONS: With at least 50% of children experiencing sunburns before age 11 and again 3 years later, targeting children in pediatric offices and community settings regarding unprotected UV exposure may be a practical approach. Because periadolescence is a time of volatility with regard to sun behaviors, learning more about children who receive sunburns versus those who avoid them is a critical research task.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-317
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Melanoma
  • Sunburn
  • Suntan


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