Perceptions of melanoma risk among Australian adolescents

Barriers to sun protection and recommendations for improvement

Jordana K. McLoone*, Bettina Meiser, Janan Karatas, Mariana S. Sousa, Elvira Zilliacus, Nadine A. Kasparian

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To explore adolescents' perceptions of melanoma risk, sun protection intervention preferences and perceived barriers to sun protection recommendations. Methods: Semi-structured focus groups were held in school classes, stratified by location (coastal, inland) and sector (public, private); discussions were transcribed verbatim and data were analysed using NVivo8 software. Results: 100 students (mean age=14.4 years, SD=0.5; range=14-16 years) from six high schools participated. Students demonstrated a high level of sun protection knowledge and understanding of sun exposure as a primary risk factor for the development of melanoma. There was, however, an under-estimation of melanoma prevalence and mortality rates among youth, and poor understanding of the increased risk associated with sunburn during childhood/adolescence. Adolescents' preferences for intervention focused on first-person accounts of receiving a melanoma diagnosis, communicated by young melanoma survivors. Interventions modelled on youth marketing campaigns or utilising social media were rated poorly. Conclusions: Despite young Australians' adequate knowledge of melanoma and related health recommendations, poor adherence continues to place young people at risk. Study findings suggest that social media interventions developed to influence behaviour change, are not necessarily preferred by adolescents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-325
Number of pages5
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • adolescents
  • attitudes
  • intervention
  • melanoma
  • perceived risk

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