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Practice Gaps
December 20, 2010

Counseling Patients to Avoid Indoor Tanning: Comment on “Prevalence and Characteristics of Indoor Tanning Use Among Men and Women in the United States”

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Dermatology, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora; Dermatology Service, Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Denver, Colorado; and Colorado School of Public Health, Aurora.

Arch Dermatol. 2010;146(12):1361-1362. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2010.354

A practice gap exists when health care providers do not maximally fulfill their potential to benefit their patients. Given the high prevalence of indoor UV tanning (18% of women and 6% men), we need to ask whether a gap exists regarding primary care physicians or dermatologists counseling patients to avoid indoor UV tanning. This topic remains controversial for a number of reasons.

Few data exist on how often or well health care providers counsel their patients to avoid indoor UV tanning. As dermatologists, we frequently recommend seeking shade, wearing hats and protective clothing, and using sunscreen in the midday sun. Our generally brief patient encounters, however, might not allow time for routinely highlighting the importance of avoiding tanning beds as well. Given the increasing prevalence of indoor UV tanning among teens (and the World Health Organization recommendations that persons younger than 18 years should not use indoor UV tanning), determining how often we make time to offer this additional advice is a subject that is ripe for future research.

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