Children of melanoma survivors were more likely to wear hats and re-apply sunscreen after receiving a multimedia informational program designed specifically for them, according to research published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.

Researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, sought to determine whether a sun protection intervention would impact melanoma survivors’ attitudes and beliefs related to their children’s sun protection, decrease children’s sunburns and increase children’s sun protection. More than 2,000 potential candidates from the MD Anderson patient registry were screened for study eligibility with 340 melanoma survivors – with age appropriate children – participating in the trial.

The study randomized melanoma survivors into two groups: one receiving standard educational materials consisting of health-related brochures on sun protection, physical activity and nutrition, and one receiving the sun protection intervention. This group received print booklets and a DVD featuring melanoma survivors. Materials presented survivors’ personal stories and motivations for protecting their children from the sun, and showed how survivors and their families practice sun protection.

Melanoma survivors completed telephone interviews at baseline and at one month and four months after intervention.

Overall, the intervention increased sunscreen reapplication and the use of wide-brimmed hats in the children. The results indicated the greatest effect on sunscreen behavior was in survivors who had children younger than 8 years old.

“This study is the first to examine a sun protection intervention for children of melanoma survivors,” study co-leader Ellen R. Gritz, who is also the chair of behavioral science at MD Anderson, said in a statement accompanying the study's publication. “This is significant in that the risk for children of melanoma survivors is almost doubled because of possible shared genotypic and phenotypic factors.”

 

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