Term of Award

Fall 1994

Degree Name

Master of Nursing

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Committee Chair

Camille P. Stern

Committee Member 1

June Alberto

Committee Member 2

Rosalyn Roesel


Although skin cancer is a major health problem for women, minimal research has been conducted to identify factors which influence the use of sunscreens as a means to prevent skin cancer. The purpose of this descriptive correlational study was to identify attitudinal variables that may be related to and possibly predict the use of sunscreens. The theoretical framework for this research was the Health Belief Model which was formulated for the purpose of providing an explanation for health related behaviors. Preventive health behaviors are explained as a result of a combination of beliefs related to four concepts: perceived susceptibility to a condition, perceived seriousness as to the extent of harm caused by the condition, perceived benefit as to the effectiveness of a specific behavior, and perceived barriers toward carrying out the behavior. In this study, seriousness to and susceptibility toward skin cancer were studied, as well as barriers and benefits to using sunscreens. Attitudes toward health motivation, which is described as the likelihood of performing health promoting behaviors were also assessed. Research questions included the following: prediction of use, non-use and frequency of sunscreens by susceptibility, seriousness, barriers, benefits and health motivation, prediction of use and non-use of sunscreens by age, educational level and occupation, and the effect of family history of skin cancer on sunscreen use. The subjects were 97 adult Caucasian women located in a small southeastern coastal city. Data was gathered through the use of self-response questionnaires which included two parts, demographic data and the Health Belief Scale. Data analysis included chi-square, Kruskal-Wallis, multiple regression and discriminant analysis. Significance levels were set at p<.05. In testing the Health Belief Model constructs in predicting the use of sunscreens, health motivation and barriers were shown to be significant predictors of sunscreen use. As health motivation increased and barriers decreased, the use of sunscreens increased When discriminant function analysis was used to differentiate the effect of the Health Belief Model constructs on frequency of sunscreen use, health motivation and benefits were shown to have the highest correlation among those subjects who used sunscreen most often. No statistically significant correlation was found among the demographic variables on predicting sunscreen use or non-use. However, the high incidence of non-use found in the sample may have accounted for the lack of statistical significance.

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