Nearly Half of Adolescents Had At Least One Sunburn In Past Year Interview with:
“Dymchurch Beach - May 2012 - Sunburn with Matching Bikini” by Gareth Williams is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Dawn M. Holman, MPH
Behavioral Scientist
Division of Cancer Prevention and Control
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention What is the background for this study?

Response: Scientific evidence clearly shows that even one sunburn during adolescence can increase a person’s chances of developing skin cancer as an adult. Surprisingly, little research has been done to understand the factors associated with sunburn during this phase of life. The CDC wanted to examine beliefs, behaviors, and demographic characteristics that might be associated with adolescent sunburns in hopes that the findings could inform future intervention efforts. We used data from the 2015 YouthStyles survey (adolescents aged 12 to 17 years) to explore this research question What are the main findings?

Response: Nearly half of the adolescents had experienced at least one sunburn in the past year. Participants were more likely to get sunburned if they agreed with the statements, “I think I look better with a tan” and “I am concerned that my current sun exposure will cause wrinkles in the future.” Adolescents who intentionally tried to get a tan (whether from sun exposure or from indoor tanning) were also more likely to get sunburned, as were non-Hispanic whites and those with sun-sensitive skin. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: The findings indicate that certain appearance-related beliefs and behaviors are associated with being more likely to get sunburned during adolescence. This would suggest that skin cancer prevention interventions targeting youth may be more successful if they address underlying appearance motives in addition to providing sun-safety education. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: The results of this study could be used to inform future research to develop and test skin cancer prevention interventions targeting adolescents. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: For more information about the work CDC is doing to address skin cancer, readers may visit

Any disclosures?  The authors have no disclosures to report. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


APHA  2017 abstract:Factors associated with sunburn among adolescents aged 12 to 17 years, 2015 YouthStyles Dawn Holman, MPH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA and Meg Watson, MPH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Chamblee, GA

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on November 8, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD