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Association Between Sun Protection Behaviors and Sunburn Among U.S. Older Adults
  • Published Date:
    May 17 2019
  • Source:
    Gerontologist. 59(Suppl 1):S17-S27
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Filetype[PDF-415.07 KB]

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  • Description:
    Background and Objectives: Skin cancer incidence rates are highest among U.S. older adults. However, little is known about sun protection behaviors and sunburn among adults aged 65 years and older. Research Design and Methods: We used data from the 2015 National Health Interview Survey to examine the association between sun protection behaviors (sun avoidance, wearing protective clothing, and sunscreen use) and likelihood of having experienced sunburn in the past year. Results: Just over one in ten older adults (13.2%) had experienced sunburn in the past year; sunburn prevalence was nearly twice as high (20.4%) among sun-sensitive older adults. Men, ages 65–69 years, non-Hispanic whites, and those with skin that burns or freckles after repeated sun exposure were more likely to have been sunburned in the past year compared with the respective comparison groups. The only sun protection behavior significantly associated with sunburn was sunscreen use. None of the sun protection behaviors were significantly associated with a decreased risk of sunburn. Discussion and Implications: The prevalence of sunburn among older adults suggests opportunities to reduce skin cancer risk within this demographic group by preventing overexposure to the sun. The lack of reduced sunburn risk among those who regularly used sun protection may be related to inadequate or inconsistent use of sun protection or the way the sun protection behaviors were measured. Multi-sector approaches to facilitate sun-safety among older adults are warranted and could include targeted efforts focused on those most likely to get sunburned, including men and those with sun-sensitive skin.
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