Gaps in skin cancer prevention interventions

December 28, 2017


We reviewed 85 studies from 2000 to 2015 reporting on skin cancer behavioral interventions.

  • 67% used technology; technology specific to skin cancer was infrequently used.
  • Less than 15% targeted the built environment or policy changes.
  • Two-thirds described theoretically-based interventions
  • Skin cancer specific technology and environmental manipulations were underutilized.


The National Cancer Institute's Skin Cancer Intervention across the Cancer Control Continuum model was developed to summarize research and identify gaps concerning skin cancer interventions.

We conducted a mapping review to characterize whether behavioral interventions addressing skin cancer prevention and control from 2000 to 2015 included (1) technology, (2) environmental manipulations (policy and/or built environment), and (3) a theoretical basis.

We included 85 studies with a randomized controlled or quasi-experimental design that targeted behavioral intervention in skin cancer for children and/or adults; seven of these were dissemination or implementation studies. Of the interventions described in the remaining 78 articles, 56 promoted only prevention behaviors (e.g., ultraviolet radiation protection), five promoted only detection (e.g., skin examinations), 10 promoted both prevention and detection, and seven focused on survivorship.

Of the 78 non-dissemination studies, two-thirds used some type of technology (n = 52; 66.7%). Technology specific to skin cancer was infrequently used: UVR photography was used in 15.4% of studies (n = 12), reflectance spectroscopy was used in 12.8% (n = 10), and dermatoscopes (n = 1) and dosimeters (n = 2) were each used in less than 3%. Nine studies (13.2%) targeted the built environment. Fifty-one (65.4%) of the studies included theory-based interventions. The most common theories were Social Cognitive Theory (n = 19; 24.6%), Health Belief Model (n = 17; 21.8%), and the Theory of Planned Behavior/Reasoned Action (n = 12; 15.4%).

Results suggest that skin cancer specific technology and environmental manipulations are underutilized in skin cancer behavioral interventions. We discuss implications of these results for researchers developing skin cancer behavioral interventions.


Tabera, JM, et al. Skin cancer interventions across the cancer control continuum: Review of technology, environment, and theory.  Preventive Medicine. Available online 23 December 2017.

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