Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 32, Issue 5, pp 406–428 | Cite as

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

  • Nadine A. KasparianEmail author
  • Jordana K. McLoone
  • Bettina Meiser


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.


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


Financial support

Nadine Kasparian is supported by a Post-Doctoral Clinical Research Fellowship from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NH&MRC ID 510399). Bettina Meiser is supported by a Career Development Award from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NH&MRC ID 350989). This project was also supported by The Cancer Council NSW Strategic Research Partnership Grant (ID SRP06-X5), and a Cancer Institute NSW Program Grant for Excellence in Translational Research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nadine A. Kasparian
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jordana K. McLoone
    • 2
    • 3
  • Bettina Meiser
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Women’s and Children’s Health, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of New South WalesKensingtonAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Medical OncologyPrince of Wales HospitalRandwickAustralia
  3. 3.Prince of Wales Clinical School, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of New South WalesKensingtonAustralia

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