Psychosocial correlates of sunburn among young adult women

Carolyn J. Heckman, Susan Darlow, Jessye Cohen-Filipic, Jacqueline D. Kloss, Sharon L. Manne, Teja Munshi, Clifford S. Perlis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Skin cancer is an increasingly common disease, particularly among young adult women. Sunburn early in life is a risk factor for skin cancer. Few studies have reported on psychosocial correlates of sunburn. The current study consisted of an online survey of undergraduate women from a university in the northeastern part of the USA. A logistic regression demonstrated that young women who reported a history of four or more sunburns were significantly more likely to report fair skin, higher perceived susceptibility to skin cancer, greater perceived benefits of tanning (e.g., appearance enhancement), lower perceived control over skin protection, and more frequent sunscreen use. Sunbathing was not associated with a greater number of sunburns. These results suggest that young women who sunburn more often possess other skin cancer risk factors, are aware of their susceptibility to skin cancer, and try to use sunscreen, but feel limited control over their skin protection behavior and are not less likely to sunbathe than others. Therefore, interventions are needed to assist high risk young women in asserting more control over their sun protection behavior and perhaps improve the effectiveness of the sunscreen or other skin protection methods they do employ.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2241-2251
Number of pages11
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


  • Health Beliefs Model
  • Psychosocial correlates
  • Skin cancer prevention
  • Sunburn
  • Sunscreen
  • Young adult women


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