Kristjansson, S., Brnstrm, R., Helgason, A. and Ulln, H., Karolinska Institute, Sweden
The incidence of skin cancers has increased rapidly during the last 20 years. It has been estimated that 80% of all skin cancers are caused by ultraviolet radiation from the sun and prevention should therefore be a viable route to reduce the incidence. A high level of sun exposure in childhood is a strong determinant of melanoma risk in adulthood. Sun protection behavior adopted early in life may have an effect on the risk of developing skin cancer later in life. Interventions targeting adolescents has been reported to affect knowledge and attitudes but the effect on sun protection behavior has been modest. The aim of this study of 1200 adolescents was to investigate the applicability of the Transtheoretical model (TTM) for sun protection behavior and seeking aid for understanding adolescents' sun protection behavior. The relation between the stages of change and two other major constructs of the TTM, processes of change and decisional balance were consistent with research on other health behaviors. There were lower scores for all processes in the precontemplation stage compared with the contemplation stage. The pro score was highest in the precontemplation stage and then decreased across the stages and was lowest in the maintenance stage. The con score was lowest in the precontemplation stage and highest in the action stage. The results provide support for using TTM for understanding adolescent's sun-related behavior and may aid in developing successful skin cancer prevention programs for adolescents.