Background: From 1973 through 2002, melanoma mortality rates have risen steeply in middle-aged and older men. Men's higher mortality rate from melanoma is hardly an isolated example of the ways in which men's health lags behind women's health. Given the significantly higher melanoma mortality rates of men compared with women, there is now a need for a melanoma education program targeted to middle-aged and older men and their closest contacts, including spouses, significant others, and health care professionals.
Objectives: In this article, we discuss the theoretical and practical foundations for such a program. Then, taking into account factors such as socioeconomic status, health literacy, and residence, we present suggestions for creating such a campaign.
Conclusions: Planners for a new educational campaign must understand the target audience's motivations for and perceived barriers to behavioral change. Future studies should examine what motivates certain men to conduct skin self-examinations, ask their physicians about melanoma, and attend melanoma screenings, whereas other men with similar risk factors are less prevention conscious. Issues of health literacy and understandability of our messages must be further explored.