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Medical News & Perspectives |

Survey Finds Physicians Rarely Advise Use of Sunscreen to Patients, Even Those Most at Risk for Skin Cancer

Mike Mitka, MSJ
JAMA. 2013;310(13):1328. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.279031.
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Applying sunscreen and practicing sun-protective behaviors reduces exposure to UV radiation, the only recognized modifiable risk factor for melanoma and other skin cancers. But new research finds that physicians rarely advise these simple measures during patient visits, even for children (who experience the most sun exposure) or for patients with a history of skin cancer.

Researchers from Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, found that physicians mentioned sunscreen at only 0.07% of patient visits. For patient visits associated with a diagnosis of skin disease, physicians did a little better, mentioning sunscreen at 0.9% of such encounters (Akamine KL et al. JAMA Dermatol. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.4741 [published online September 4, 2013]). The findings are based on 18.3 billion US patient visits recorded in the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey from 1989 through 2010. The survey collects descriptive data regarding ambulatory visits to nonfederal, office-based physicians.

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The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
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