Sun protection behaviors of the U.S. white population

Prev Med. Jul-Aug 1997;26(4):401-7. doi: 10.1006/pmed.1997.0168.


Background: Sun protection behaviors are recommended to prevent skin cancer, which has increased in incidence. This study measured the prevalence of sun protection behaviors and determined personal characteristics associated with them.

Methods: Data from 10,048 white respondents to the 1992 National Health Interview Survey Cancer Control Supplement were analyzed. Multiple logistic regression models were constructed to relate personal characteristics to specific behaviors.

Results: Fifty-three percent of respondents reported they were "very likely" to use sunscreen, wear protective clothing, or seek shade if they were outside on a sunny day for more than 1 hr. Proportions for the individual behaviors were 32, 28, and 30%, respectively. Compared with people who do not burn, those reporting severe sunburn after 1 hr of sun exposure reported more use of sunscreens (odds ratio [OR] = 2.4, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.0, 2.9), shade (OR = 1.8, 95% CI 1.5, 2.1), and protective clothing (OR = 2.2, 95% CI 1.9, 2.7). Other factors associated with practicing protection behaviors included a personal history of skin cancer, older age, and female sex.

Conclusions: A large percentage of white U.S. adults did not protect themselves from sun exposure. Additional education of the general public and persons at higher risk for skin cancer is needed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / psychology
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Protective Clothing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Skin / radiation effects
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Skin Neoplasms / psychology
  • Skin Pigmentation / radiation effects
  • Sunburn / epidemiology
  • Sunburn / prevention & control*
  • Sunburn / psychology
  • Sunlight / adverse effects*
  • Sunscreening Agents / therapeutic use*
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Sunscreening Agents