Skin cancer education and early detection at the beach: a randomized trial of dermatologist examination and biometric feedback

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2011 Feb;64(2):282-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2010.01.040. Epub 2010 Dec 15.


Background: There are limited data on the effectiveness of skin cancer prevention education and early detection programs at beaches.

Objectives: We evaluate 4 strategies for addressing skin cancer prevention in beach settings.

Methods: This prospective study at 4 beaches included 4 intervention conditions: (1) education only; (2) education plus biometric feedback; (3) education plus dermatologist skin examination; or (4) education plus biometric feedback and dermatologist skin examination. Outcomes included sun protection behaviors, sunburns, and skin self-examinations.

Results: There was a significant increase in hat wearing, sunscreen use, and a reduction in sunburns in the education plus biometric feedback group (odds ratio = 1.97, 1.94, and 1.07, respectively), and greater improvements in knowing what to look for in skin-self examinations (odds ratio = 1.13); there were no differences in frequency of self-examinations. Skin examinations plus biometric feedback led to greater reductions in sunburns. The dermatologist examinations identified atypical moles in 28% of participants.

Limitations: Inclusion of only one beach per condition, use of self-report data, and a limited intervention period are limitations.

Conclusions: Education and biometric feedback may be more effective than education alone for impacting sun protective attitudes and behaviors in beachgoing, high-risk populations.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biometry
  • Feedback
  • Female
  • Health Education*
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / etiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Examination*
  • Primary Prevention
  • Self-Examination
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Sunburn / prevention & control*
  • Sunscreening Agents / therapeutic use


  • Sunscreening Agents