Sun Protection Behaviors

Skin Cancer Prevention

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, and in contrast to many other cancers, its numbers are on the rise. Although skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, it is also the most preventable. Comprehensive sun protection for skin cancer prevention includes (1) Applying sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) 30 minutes before going outside in the sun; (2) Reapplying sunscreen every 2 hours and after swimming or exercise; (3) Wearing wide-brimmed hats and other protective clothing; (4) Using shade whenever possible; and (5) Attending to indicators of UV intensity and need for sun safety (i.e., time of day, season, latitude, altitude, and cloudiness). Avoiding indoor tanning practices is also important for skin cancer prevention. Tanning bed usage has been recently evaluated as a probable cause of melanoma.

The Health Behaviors Research Branch (HBRB) supports research in the area of sun protection and reducing indoor tanning practices, through both measurement and intervention studies. HBRB is also working to build collaborative partnerships with other government agencies and private foundations to further scientific inquiry in how to best promote skin cancer prevention efforts at individual, community, and population levels.

Reports & Publications

Andersen PA, Buller DB, Walkosz BJ et al. Expanding occupational sun safety to an outdoor recreation industry: a translational study of the Go Sun Smart program. Transl Behav Med 2012 Mar;2(1):10-18.

Baker, M. K., Hillhouse, J. J., & Liu, X. (2010). The effect of initial indoor tanning with mother on current tanning patterns. Arch Dermatol, 146(12), 1427-1428. doi: 146/12/1427 [pii]

Buller DB, Berwick M, Shane J, Kane I, Lantz K, Buller MK. User-centered Development of a Smart Phone Mobile Application Delivering Personalized Real-time Advice on Sun Protection. Transl Behav Med April 2013. (epub ahead of print)

Heckman, C.J., Manne, S.L., Darlow, S., Cohen-Filipic, E., Kloss, P, Munshi, T., & Perlis, C. (2012). Psychosocial correlates of sunburn among young adult women. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 9: 2241-2251.

Hillhouse, J, Baker, MK, Turrisi, R, Shields, A, Stapleton, J, Jain, S, Longacre, I (In press). Evaluating a measure of tanning abuse and dependence. Archives of Dermatology.

Stapleton, J., Turrisi, R., Hillhouse, J., Robinson, J. K., & Abar, B. (2010). A comparison of the efficacy of an appearance-focused skin cancer intervention within indoor tanner subgroups identified by latent profile analysis. J Behav Med, 33(3), 181-190. doi: 10.1007/s10865-009-9246-z

Andersen PA, Buller DB, Walkosz BJ, Scott MD, Maloy JA, Cutter GR, Dignan MD. Environmental Cues to UV Radiation and Personal Sun Protection in Outdoor Winter Recreation Exit Disclaimer. Arch Dermatol, Nov 2010; 146: 1241 - 1247.

Glanz et al. Measures of sun exposure and sun protection practices for behavioral and epidemiologic research Exit Disclaimer. Arch Dermatol. 2008 Feb;144(2):217-22.

Manne SL, Coups EJ, Jacobsen PB, Ming M, Heckman CJ, Lessin S. Sun protection and sunbathing practices among at-risk family members of patients with melanoma. BMC Public Health. 2011; 11: 122.-

Lazovich et al. Measuring nonsolar tanning behavior: indoor and sunless tanning Exit Disclaimer. Arch Dermatol. 2008 Feb;144(2):225-30.

Pagoto SL, Schneider KL, Oleski J, Bodenlos JS, Ma Y. The sunless study: a beach randomized trial of a skin cancer prevention intervention promoting sunless tanning Exit Disclaimer. Arch Dermatol, Sept 2010; 146(9):979-84.

Robinson JK, Mallett KA, Turrisi R, Stapleton J. Engaging patients and their partners in preventive health behaviors: the physician factor. Arch Dermatol, Apr 2009; 145(4):469-73.

Sivamani RK, Crane LA, Dellavalle RP. The benefits and risks of ultraviolet (UV) tanning and its alternatives: the role of prudent sun exposure. Dermatol Clin. 2009 April; 27(2): 149–vi.


CDC Skin Cancer


Frank M. Perna, Ed.D., Ph.D.