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Science Olympiad» Disease Detectives Event » National Event Exercises
Part V and VI: Skin Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention

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Part V
(Recommended time: 15 minutes)


See Also...
Part I
Part II, III, & IV

Part V & VI

Answer Key

In your meeting with the governor, you want to be able to present the major risk factors for skin cancer so you can discuss how Delaware can bring its skin cancer mortality rate down.

You know that the major preventable cause of skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun over many years. To determine which behaviors of people put them at risk for sun exposure, you find an excellent resource, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). The survey collects data on important health-related behaviors, such as smoking and exercise, among young people. Data from the YRBS are used at the national, state, and local levels for a variety of public health programs. 

Students complete the self-administered YRBS questionnaire in their classrooms during a regular class period, recording their responses directly on a computer-scanned answer sheet. The students’ parents’ permission is obtained before the survey. For the first time, in 1999, the national YRBS asked students about sunscreen use.

Table 1 includes findings on sunscreen use from a sample of 15,439 U.S. high school students. Students were asked, “How often do you wear sunscreen or sun block with an SPF of 15 or higher when you are outside for more than one hour on a sunny day?” Possible multiple-choice responses included “never,” “rarely,” “sometimes,” “most of the time,” or “always.”

Table 1. Prevalence of sunscreen use1 among U.S. high school students, by demographic characteristics
 — Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 1999.2

 

  N3 Never % Rarely % Sometimes % Most of the time or Always %
Total 15,349 35.9 29.3 21.4 13.3
Age (years)          
<=14 1,308 30.5 26.1 25.9 17.5
15 3,378 35.2 29.1 22.1 13.7
16 3,988 35.3 29.8 21.2 13.7
17 4,013 36.6 30.4 21.1 11.9
>=18 2,631 41.0 29.0 18.3 11.6
Sex          
Female 7,828 29.8 28.4 23.8 18.1
Male 7,445 42.0 30.3 19.1 8.6
Race or Ethnicity          
White 5,407 25.0 32.5 26.0 16.5
Black 4,283 74.1 13.7 7.4 4.8
Hispanic or Latino 4,106 43.2 28.4 17.6 10.8
Grade          
9 3,786 37.0 27.5 21.0 14.6
10 3,787 34.2 29.5 22.8 13.6
11 3,885 35.8 30.1 21.7 12.5
12 3,823 36.6 30.7 20.3 12.4
Footnotes for Table 1:
1  Wear sunscreen or sun block with an SPF of 15 or higher when outside for more than one hour on a sunny day. 
2 Prevalence estimates based on weighted data.
3 Unweighted numbers. Numbers may not add to total because of missing information.
Source: Hall HI, Jones SE, Saraiya M. Correlates of Sunscreen Use. Journal of School Health

13. Give two reasons why Disease Detectives would be interested in monitoring the sunscreen use of high school students?

 

 

 

14. Define “prevalence” as used in Table 1.

 

 

 

15. Using Table 1, determine the prevalence for frequent (“most of the time” or “always”) sunscreen use.

 

 

 

16. Use the data in Table 1 to identify three characteristics of a hypothetical student who is least likely to use sunscreen.

 

 

 

Part VI
(Recommended time: 10 minutes)

The data in Table 2 show what percentage of students who reported practicing the health-related behaviors listed there also reported wearing sunscreen. For example, 10.7% of the students who reported “never or rarely” wearing a bicycle helmet also said that they wore sunscreen either “most of the time” or “always.”

Table 2. Prevalence of frequent use of sunscreen1 among U.S. high school students, by other health-related behaviors
— Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 1999.

 

  Frequent Sunscreen Use (%)
Note: N=15,349.

Bicycle helmet use2

 
Never or Rarely 10.7
Sometimes, most of the time, or always 25.7
Seat Belt Use   
Never or Rarely 8.4
Sometimes, most of the time, or always 14.3
Drove after Drinking Alcohol or Rode with Drinking Driver3  
0 times 15.3
1 or more times 9.7
Carried a Weapon4  
0 times 14.2
1 or more times 9.5
Cigarette Smoking4  
0 days 14.5
1 or more days 11.2
Alcohol Use4  
0 days 15.1
1 or more days 11.6
Marijuana Use4  
0 days  14.4
1 or more days 10.1
Sexual Activity5  
Yes  9.4
No  15.2
Body Mass Index6  
Overweight  9.4
At risk for being overweight 11.1
Neither overweight nor at risk for overweight  14.0
Fruit and Vegetable consumption7  
Yes  17.8
No  12.0
Physical activity8  
Both vigorous and moderate 16.9
Vigorous only 12.8
Moderate only 10.9
Neither vigorous nor moderate 11.9
Footnotes for Table 2:
1  Used sunscreen most of the time or always.
2 Among students who rode a bicycle during the 12 months preceding the survey.
3 During the 30 days preceding the survey, drove after drinking alcohol or rode with a driver who had been drinking.
4 During the 30 days preceding the survey.
5 Had sexual intercourse during the 3 months preceding the survey.
6 Body Mass Index (kg/m2) categorized as overweight (at least 95th percentile), at risk for being overweight (at least 85th but <95th percentile), and neither overweight nor at risk for overweight (<85th percentile). 
7 Had eaten at least 5 servings/day of 100% fruit juice, fruit, green salad, potatoes (excluding french fries, fried potatoes, or potato chips), carrots, or other vegetables during the 7 days preceding the survey.
8 Vigorous physical activity: activities that caused sweating and hard breathing for at least 20 minutes on at least 3 of the 7 days preceding the survey. Moderate physical activity: activities that did not cause sweating and hard breathing for at least 30 minutes on at least 5 of the 7 days preceding the survey.
Source: Hall HI, Jones SE, Saraiya M. Correlates of Sunscreen Use. Journal of School Health

17. Use the data in Table 2 to identify three behaviors with which sunscreen use is positively associated.

 

 

 

18. Using sunscreen is one way to reduce ultraviolet (UV) exposure. Other sun-safety measures include wearing hats and long-sleeved clothing, and limiting time spent in the sun during midday. List three ways to encourage students to adopt any of these behaviors.

 

 

 

19. List two limitations to the YRBS that you noted while using the data to study sun protective practices.

 

 

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This page last reviewed August 27, 2004

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