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Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology
Volume 61, n° 5
pages 783-792 (novembre 2009)
Doi : 10.1016/j.jaad.2009.04.023
accepted : 14 April 2009
Original Articles

Exposure to mass media health information, skin cancer beliefs, and sun protection behaviors in a United States probability sample

Jennifer Hay, PhD a, , Elliot J. Coups, PhD b, Jennifer Ford, PhD a, Marco DiBonaventura, PhD c
a Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 
b Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 
c Consumer Health Services International, New York, New York 

Reprint requests: Jennifer Hay, PhD, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, 641 Lexington Ave, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10022.

The mass media is increasingly important in shaping a range of health beliefs and behaviors.


We examined the association among mass media health information exposure (general health, cancer, sun protection information), skin cancer beliefs, and sun protection behaviors.


We used a general population national probability sample comprised of 1633 individuals with no skin cancer history (Health Information National Trends Survey, 2005, National Cancer Institute) and examined univariate and multivariate associations among family history of skin cancer, mass media exposure, skin cancer beliefs, and sun protection (use of sunscreen, shade seeking, and use of sun-protective clothing).


Mass media exposure was higher in younger individuals, and among those who were white and more highly educated. More accurate skin cancer beliefs and more adherent sun protection practices were reported by older individuals, and among those who were white and more highly educated. Recent Internet searches for health or sun protection information were associated with sunscreen use.


Study limitations include the self-report nature of sun protection behaviors and cross-sectional study design.


We identify demographic differences in mass media health exposure, skin cancer beliefs, and sun protection behaviors that will contribute to planning skin cancer awareness and prevention messaging across diverse population subgroups.

The full text of this article is available in PDF format.

Key words : health communication, skin cancer beliefs, sun protection behaviors

 Supported in part by National Cancer Institute grants K07CA98106 (Dr Hay), 5R25CA057708-13 (Dr Coups; Principal Investigator: Paul F. Engstrom, MD) and ACS MRSG-07-165-01 CPPB (Dr Ford).
 Conflicts of interest: None declared.

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