Regional variations in the use of statutory skin cancer screenings in Germany: population-based spatial multisource analysis

J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2020 Aug;34(8):1736-1743. doi: 10.1111/jdv.16228. Epub 2020 May 8.


Background: Due to the increasing incidence of skin cancer, programmes for the prevention of skin cancer have been developed and implemented in Germany. However, utilization of skin cancer screenings shows marked regional differences. Reasons and predictors of such variations are unclear.

Objectives: The objective of the study is to identify predictors for regional use of skin cancer screening variations in Germany.

Methods: Analysis of the population set of ambulatory claims data (2009-2015) of the statutory health insurances (SHI) in Germany (70.2 million people in 2015). Skin cancer screening utilization rate was determined on county level. Descriptive, cluster and multivariate analyses were performed to identify spatial patterns in skin cancer screening utilization.

Results: Overall, 6.5-7.9 million people participated in skin cancer screenings. Utilization rates of people ≥35 years of age were 9.74% (2009) and 10.96% (2015). Marked regional variations were identified between the counties. Dermatologists in Saxony and Westphalia-Lippe as well as general practitioners in Lower Saxony and North Rhine showed particularly high utilization rates. Multiple regression analyses demonstrated e.g. positive associations between the skin cancer screening utilization rates and employees with higher vocational qualifications and shorter travel time by car to the nearest major urban centre.

Conclusion: Utilization rates of skin cancer screening vary largely in Germany with specific spatial patterns. Multivariate analyses demonstrate associations with socio-economic and geographical determinants. The results indicate the importance of health policy measures. These should be used in a more targeted manner in the regions in order to increase utilization of skin cancer screening.

MeSH terms

  • Early Detection of Cancer*
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • National Health Programs
  • Skin Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Skin Neoplasms* / epidemiology