Background: In response to the increasing rate of skin cancer, particularly melanoma in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Weather Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Association of Physicians for the Environment, and the American Academy of Dermatology, developed the Ultraviolet Index (UVI) to inform the public of the strength of the sun's rays and advise on methods for sun protection.
Objective: Our purpose was to evaluate the extent to which television stations and newspapers reported the UVI and assess the public's response to it.
Methods: To evaluate the effect of this effort, we surveyed television weather forecasters at 185 stations and examined weather pages in 54 newspapers in 58 cities that received the UVI reports. We also conducted a population probability telephone survey of 700 white adults (18 years of age and older) in these 58 cities.
Results: Seventy-one percent of the 169 stations that provided survey data for both 1994 and 1995 broadcast the UVI; 61% of newspapers reported the UVI. Nearly 64% of the 700 respondents (n = 445) had heard of the UVI. Of these respondents, 38% (n = 170) stated that they or their family changed their sun protection practices as a result of the UVI.
Conclusion: The majority of television weather forecasters and newspapers reported the UVI. Most of the public was aware of the UVI, causing some to change sun protection practices. Further evaluation is required to maximize the effect of the UVI on sun protection practices.