The role of risk perception in explaining parental sunscreen use

Hein de Vries*, Liesbeth van Osch, Kim Eijmael, Chris Smerecnik, Math Candel

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Objective: This study assessed: (1) whether risk perceptions about skin cancer were related to parent's use of sunscreen on their children; (2) which combination of assessments susceptibility and severity best explain parental sunscreen protection behaviours and (3) whether risk perceptions influence behaviour directly through intentions or through attitudes, subjective norms and self-efficacy. Design: Two longitudinal studies assessed sunscreen protection behaviours of parents for their toddlers (N = 391) and young children (N = 436). Main outcome measure: Parent's use of sunscreen on their children. Results: Risk perceptions correlated with future sunscreen protection behaviours of parents but were lower than those of attitude, social influence and self-efficacy. Treating susceptibility and severity as an additive function resulted in the best model fit. Risk perceptions were related with future intention and future sunscreen protection behaviour, but the effects were mediated through attitude, social influence and self-efficacy. Conclusions: Our path analyses suggest treating susceptibility and severity as an additive function. A multiplicative model without main effects - although often used - had the poorest fit. Risk perceptions influence behaviour by influencing attitudinal and self-efficacy beliefs. Addressing risk perceptions in health communication programs is relevant when the purpose is to increase awareness and to influence attitudes and self-efficacy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1342-1358
JournalPsychology & Health
Volume27
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords

  • risk perception
  • skin cancer
  • Health Belief Model
  • Protection Motivation Theory
  • I-Change Model

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