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Parents Can Promote Sun-Safe Behaviors in Children

Positive parenting helps reduce sunburn frequency and severity

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Parents can play an important role in promoting sun-safe behaviors and reducing sunburn frequency and severity in their children when there is a good parent-child relationship and low levels of negative communication, according to a study in the August issue of Archives of Dermatology.

Rob Turrisi, Ph.D., from The Pennsylvania State University in University Park, and colleagues gave the parents of 340 children aged 9 to 12 years old a handbook encouraging them to communicate skin cancer risks, promote safe sun-related behaviors, and discourage high-risk sun-related behaviors. Children were asked approximately 45 days later about sunburn frequency and severity, sunbathing tendencies, and family dynamics. The control group of 129 parents did not receive any materials, and children were assessed at the same time as the intervention group.

The researchers found that children from households where there was a good parent-child relationship and low levels of negative communication had significant reductions in sunburn frequency and severity as well as sunbathing tendencies.

The findings of this study provide evidence that "parents can be viable change agents for child behaviors, and the quality of the family relationship is critical to the success of such interventions," Turrisi and colleagues concluded. "Physicians can adapt elements of effective parent-child communication to improve patient-physician communications and enhance patient compliance with practicing sun safety (e.g., setting a general positive health care environment, ceasing negative communication such as lecturing rather than listening, and continuous monitoring of the desired behavior)," they said.

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