Skin cancer-related prevention and screening behaviors: A review of the literature

Nadine A. Kasparian, Jordana K. McLoone, Bettina Meiser

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

173 Citations (Scopus)


Primary prevention and early detection continue to be of paramount importance in addressing the public health threat of skin cancer. The aim of this systematic review was to provide a comprehensive overview of the prevalence and correlates of skin cancer-related health behaviors in the general population. To achieve this aim, 91 studies published in international peer-reviewed journals over the past three decades were reviewed and synthesized. Reported estimates of sunscreen use varied considerably across studies, ranging from 7 to 90%. According to self-report, between 23 and 61% of individuals engage in skin self-examination at least once per year, and the documented prevalence of annual clinical skin examination ranges from 8 to 21%. Adherence to sun protection and screening recommendations is associated with a range of factors, including: female gender, sun-sensitive phenotype, greater perceived risk of skin cancer, greater perceived benefits of sun protection or screening, and doctor recommendation for screening. The literature suggests that a large proportion of the general population engage in suboptimal levels of sun protection, although there is substantial variability in findings. The strongest recommendation to emerge from this review is a call for the development and widespread use of standardized measurement scales in future research, in addition to more studies with a population-based, multivariate design. It is also recommended that specific targeted interventions are developed to increase the prevalence of preventative and early intervention behaviors for the control of skin cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)406-428
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Clinical skin examination
  • Health behavior prediction
  • Melanoma
  • Skin cancer
  • Skin self-examination
  • Sun protection behaviors


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