Recalling our day in the sun: comparing long-term recall of childhood sun exposure with prospectively collected parent-reported data†
To examine the impact of sun exposure on human health, accurate measures of past sun exposure are required. We investigated how young adults’ recall of childhood sun-related behaviours compares with parent-reported measures collected during childhood. The Kidskin-Young Adult Myopia Study (KYAMS) is a follow-up of the Kidskin Study, a sun-protection intervention study conducted from 1995–2001. KYAMS participants, aged 25–30 years, reported time in sun, and use of hats and sunscreen, for each year from ages 5–26 years (n = 244). Using weighted kappa, we assessed agreement between these data and corresponding variables derived from the Kidskin Study parent questionnaires completed when KYAMS participants were aged 6–12 years. Ordinal logistic regression was used to test the association between self-reported sun-behaviours and corresponding parent-reported data. We found slight agreement between self-reported and parent-reported data for all sun-behaviour measures except hat use at 12 years. KYAMS recall of time in sun at 8–12 years was not associated with Kidskin Study parent-reported responses after adjustment for current time in sun. Recall of higher hat and sunscreen use was associated with higher parent-reported hat and sunscreen use (OR[hat] = 1.37, 95% CI: 1.16, 1.62; OR[sunscreen] = 1.23, 95% CI: 1.03, 1.48). However, KYAMS self-reported data were unable to predict corresponding parent-reported responses. Group data from retrospective recall of sun-related behaviours may be of limited value in studying the relationship between sun exposure and health outcomes; however, individual data are likely of little use.