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Special Communication
January 2018

Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Sun Safety

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Department of Anthropology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park
  • 3Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester
  • 4Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York
  • 5Community and Behavioral Health, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City
  • 6Klein Buendel, Golden, Colorado
  • 7Department of Kinesiology, The Pennsylvania State University
  • 8Department of Dermatology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois
  • 9Chief Editor, JAMA Dermatology
  • 10MRC Centre for Inflammation Research, Queens Medical Research Institute, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland
  • 11Division of General Pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle
  • 12Department of Dermatology, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
  • 13Cancer Council Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
  • 14Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia
  • 15Department of Psychological Sciences, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio
  • 16National Cancer Institute, Rockville, Maryland
JAMA Dermatol. 2018;154(1):88-92. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2017.4201

Overexposure to the sun is associated with an increased risk of melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer, but indications of improvements in sun protection behavior are poor. Attempts to identify emerging themes in skin cancer control have largely been driven by groups of experts from a single field. In December 2016, 19 experts from various disciplines convened for Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Skin Cancer, a 2-day meeting hosted by the National Academy of Sciences. The group discussed knowledge gaps, perspectives on sun exposure, implications for skin cancer risk and other health outcomes, and new directions. Five themes emerged from the discussion: (1) The definition of risk must be expanded, and categories for skin physiology must be refined to incorporate population diversities. (2) Risky sun exposure often co-occurs with other health-related behaviors. (3) Messages must be nuanced to target at-risk populations. (4) Persons at risk for tanning disorder must be recognized and treated. (5) Sun safety interventions must be scalable. Efficient use of technologies will be required to sharpen messages to specific populations and to integrate them within multilevel interventions. Further interdisciplinary research should address these emerging themes to build effective and sustainable approaches to large-scale behavior change.