Background: The incidence of melanoma continues to increase in many countries, and primary prevention of melanoma includes avoidance of sunburn as well as adequate sun protection behavior. The aim of this study was to examine the prevalence of self-reported sun protection behaviors and sunburn in users of the Internet, and to identify the demographic, clinical, and attitudinal/motivational correlates of sun protection behaviors. Methods: Self-report data were gathered on behalf of the GenoMEL consortium using an online survey available in 10 different languages, and 8,178 individuals successfully completed at least 80% of survey items, with 73% of respondents from Europe, 12% from Australia, 7% from the United States, 2% from Israel, and 6% from other countries. Results: Half of all respondents and 27% of those with a previous melanoma reported at least one severe sunburn during the previous 12 months. The strongest factors associated with sun protection behavior were perceived barriers to protection (β = -0.44/β = -0.37), and respondents who reported a positive attitude toward suntans were less likely to protect (β = -0.16/β = -0.14). Reported use of protective clothing and shade, as well as avoidance of midday sun exposure, were more strongly related to reduced risk of sunburn than sunscreen use. Conclusions: Despite widespread dissemination of public health messages about the importance of sun protection, a substantial proportion of this international sample, including respondents with a previous melanoma, reported inadequate sun protection behaviors resulting in severe sunburn. Impact: Future strategies to decrease sunburn should target the practical, social, and psychological barriers associated with nonuptake of sun protection.
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