Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health


Epidemiology & Community Health

First Advisor

Dr. Saba W. Masho


Background. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. The main modifiable risk factor for skin cancer is exposure to excessive sun and UV radiation. More than 90% of all skin cancers are known to be caused by sun exposure. However, studies on excessive sun and UV exposure are limited. The purpose of this study was to examine risk and protective factors affecting sun protection behaviors of adult women in the United States. Methods. Data on U.S. adult women (n=17,425) from the 2003 National Health Information Survey (NHIS) was analyzed. Sun protection behaviors were assessed using three variables: use of sunscreen, staying in the shade, and wearing protective clothing when outside for an hour or more on a very sunny day. Demographic characteristics, risk and preventive factors such as visit to the general doctor, visit to the dentist, most recent mammogram, most recent pap smear, vigorous exercise, cigarette use, and alcohol use were examined using multiple logistic regression. Results. Only 45% of the respondents indicated that they consistently use sunscreen or stay in the shade when outside on a very sunny day for an hour or more and 15.8% of the respondents reported that they consistently wore protective clothing. The adjusted logistic regression analyses indicated that race, age, education, income, geographic region, employment status, exercise, history of cancer, tobacco use, and alcohol use were statistically significant predictors for participation in the sun protection behaviors. Conclusions. A majority of the U.S. adult female population do not use protection from excessive sun. Education programs for sun protection behaviors should target young, low income women with less than high school education who participate in other health risk behaviors, such as tobacco and alcohol use. Furthermore, sun protection education should be incorporated with other health education messages that target at risk populations.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

Epidemiology Commons