Sun protective behaviors among adolescents and young adults in the United States

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Journal of the National Medical Association


PURPOSE: We described sun protective behaviors in adolescents and young adults (AYA) compared to older adults.

METHODS: We used data from the 2013-2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a nationally representative samples of the civilian, noninstitutionalized US population (10,710 respondents aged between 20 and 59 and without a history of skin cancer diagnoses). The primary exposure for the study was age group: aged 20-39 defined as AYA and aged 40-59 as adults. The outcome variable was sun protective behaviors: stay in the shade, wear a long-sleeved shirt, use sunscreen, at least one of the three; and all three measures. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to assess association between age group and sun protective behaviors adjusting for sociodemographic factors.

RESULTS: Overall, 51.3% of respondents were AYA, 76.1% reported staying in the shade, 50.9% using sunscreen, 33.3% wearing long-sleeved clothes, 88.1% engaging in one of the three behaviors, and 17.1% engaging in all three behaviors. In the adjusted models, the odds of engaging in all three behaviors among AYAs was 28% (aOR: 0.72, 95% CI: 0.62-0.83) lower than adult respondents. Compared to adults, AYAs were 22% less likely to wear long sleeved clothes (aOR: 0.78, 95% CI: 0.70-0.87). There were no significant differences in the odds of engaging in at least one sun protective behavior, using sunscreen, and staying in the shade between AYAs and adults.

CONCLUSIONS: More targeted interventions need to be implemented to decrease the risk of skin cancer in the AYA population.

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ePub ahead of print