In the study, 2,173 adolescents with a mean age of 12.4 years self-completed a questionnaire that included questions on their sun-related behaviours and tanning attitudes, as well as their skin cancer symptom and risk factor awareness.
The adolescents overall reported poor sun-related behaviour and low awareness of skin cancer symptoms and risk factors.
However, girls were significantly more likely than boys to report sunbathing and using lotions or oil to aid tanning and sunburn, while knowing that changes in the appearance of a mole was a symptom of skin cancer and that experiencing sunburn more than once as a child was a risk factor for skin cancer.
Girls were also more likely to report that their friends thought it was a good thing to have a tan, and that having a tan made them feel better about themselves, more attractive to others and healthier.
The authors suggest that further research should be carried out to determine how to reduce risky sun-related behaviours among adolescents and reduce the increasing incidence of malignant melanoma in Scotland.
Kyle RG, Macmillan I, Forbat L et al. BMJ Open 2014; 4(5): e005137