Melanoma and the Adolescent: A Pilot Research Study Exploring Adolescent Sun-protective Behaviors


By the year 2000, 1 in 90 Americans will develop melanoma during their lifetime (Brodkin, & Altman, 1993). This is the fastest rate of increase of any cancer. Youthful sunbathing has a direct relationship to the development of melanoma. With poor health-promoting behaviors related to sun protection, the adolescent population increases its risk of developing melanoma. The "at-risk" adolescent population would benefit from education about health-promoting behaviors related to sun protection to help curtail this devastating disease. This pilot research study used a descriptive design to evaluate a sun protection education program on increasing knowledge about sun protection among adolescents. The convenience sample included forty-one adolescent's ages 13 to 19 attending two local community settings in Central Florida. Subjects implied consent by their attendance at the educational program and by answering the questionnaires. Upon arriving at the selected settings, the researcher gave participants a demographic instrument, a pre-questionnaire, a post-questionnaire, and a pencil to complete the answers. The data were analyzed with descriptive and inferential statistics using SPSS computer software (1995). The alpha level of .05 was used for statistical significance. The approach to data analysis involved the comparison of pre-test and post-test scores using the McNemar Test for significance of changes. Data were also analyzed to determine measures of central tendency, measures of dispersion, and frequency distributions. The results indicated that fifty-six percent of adolescents spend 1 to 4 hours per day out in the sun. Twenty-seven percent strongly disagreed that they would usually wear a hat. Two questions relating to peer group influence and attractiveness found that forty-nine percent of the subjects claimed a tan makes a person look more attractive (pretty or handsome).

Seventy-five percent of the subjects claimed that their "friends" or "family and friends" think a tan is a good thing. Comparison of pre- and post-educational program knowledge scores found all subjects had demonstrated an increase in knowledge after the "Sun Protection" educational program in five out of the six questions. Using the McNemar Test for statistical significance of changes two of the questions were identified as significant at the alpha level of . 05 after the educational program. The responses to the qualitative question, that asked participants to define health in their own words, were grouped into six categories following content analysis. This study produced useful information about how adolescents would respond to a selected teaching method and obtained pertinent information about adolescent sun protection. The "at-risk" adolescent population needs education about sun protection in order to decrease the growing number of melanoma cases.


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Graduation Date





Dow, Karen H.


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Health and Public Affairs






87 p.



Length of Campus-only Access


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Masters Thesis (Open Access)




Dissertations, Academic -- Health and Public Affairs; Health and Public Affairs -- Dissertations, Academic

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