Assessing the effect of knowledge and attitudes on skin cancer prevention in rural communities
One of the most common forms of cancer in the United States is skin cancer. Although the incidence of skin cancer is increasing annually, the distribution of skin cancer risk is not the same everywhere. Compared with urban residents, rural residents, who are typically older, less educated, and poorer than urban residents, have less access to early cancer detection programs and preventative health information. Yet almost all cases of skin cancer are preventable through appropriate protection from ultraviolet radiation. This study uses data from a project designed to prevent cancers caused by obesity, tobacco, and sunburn in rural communities. Data were collected from 382 randomly selected residents of two rural communities in Texas in 2011. The information collected included demographic characteristics, attitudes and behaviors regarding cancer prevention, general health knowledge and anthropometric measurements (height, weight, and waist circumference). Ordinal logistic regression analyses and Chi-square tests were used to examine the associations of factors affecting sunscreen use and sunburn frequency. This study found that rural residents, who are Hispanic, smokers, and obese were more likely to use sunscreen. Those who are obese, unmarried, and less educated were reported more frequently getting sunburned. Knowledge derived from this study can be used to determine the need and scope of future rural skin cancer risk intervention efforts. Rural residents need further public preventive interventions to protect present and future generations from skin cancer.