Date of Award

1-6-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Sheryl M. Strasser, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Kymberle Sterling, Dr.PH.

Abstract

Background: Skin cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer yet for certain types of skin cancers, it can be fatal if it goes untreated. While ultraviolet radiation is the main cause of skin cancer, there are several other risk factors, including sunburn history, smoking, environmental pollutants, family history, personal history, and skin color. Practicing sun protection behaviors and receiving regular skin cancer screenings can prevent the cancer from ever developing. This study examines the demographic and socioeconomic status risk factors for skin cancer.

Methods: The Health Information National Trends Survey data was used from 2005. Using this secondary dataset, chi-square analysis was performed to determine the prevalence of skin cancer within the demographic categories of age and race/ethnicity as well as socioeconomic status indicators educational attainment, annual household income, employment status, and marital status. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to determine the correlations of the variables with skin cancer. A p-value of 0.05 and a 95% confidence interval were maintained throughout the analyses to determine any statistical significance.

Results: Of the 3,804 respondents who answered the question related to cancer diagnosis, 226 indicated they had a positive skin cancer diagnosis, which was 5.94% of the total sample. Skin cancer and increased age were consistently associated (χ2 (2) = 171.5, p<.001). The skin cancer peak prevalence was for all those respondents aged 65 and older. Higher educational attainment and higher annual household income were associated with greater likelihood of skin cancer.

Conclusions: This study revealed that skin cancer is significantly associated with increased age, higher educational attainment, and higher annual household income. Implementing consistent screening practices and targeted behavioral interventions are important areas for health focus in the future.

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Public Health Commons

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