Ivanov NN, Swan A, Guseman EH, Whipps J, Jensen LL, Beverly EA. Medical Students’ Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors With Regard to Skin Cancer and Sun-Protective Behaviors. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2018;118(7):444–454. doi: 10.7556/jaoa.2018.098.
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Skin cancer is the most prevalent cancer in the United States. Training medical students about the importance of sun-protective behaviors is critical to reducing skin cancer rates. However, minimal research has explored osteopathic medical students’ knowledge and behaviors with regard to the sun's effect on skin health.
To assess first-year osteopathic medical students’ knowledge about skin cancer and UV radiation, attitudes toward tanning, and sun-protective behaviors to establish baseline values.
Using a descriptive, cross-sectional study design, the authors evaluated students’ knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors through a quiz.
A total of 121 first-year osteopathic medical students completed the quiz. The mean (SD) score was 74.6% (11.5%). Two-thirds of participants (n=82) correctly identified basal cell carcinoma as the most common skin cancer, and the majority identified the ABCDs (asymmetry, border irregularity, color, and diameter) of melanoma detection (96 [79.3%], 106 [87.6%], 108 [89.3%], and 94 [77.7%], respectively). Most participants were aware that cloud cover and swimming underwater do not provide UV ray protection (121 [100%] and 109 [90.1%], respectively), a fact that is often misconceived. Forty participants (33.1%) usually or always used some form of sun protection when outdoors. Forty-seven participants (38.8%) believed that a tan makes one look healthy, and 43 participants (35.6%) sunbathed with the intention of tanning.
Physicians are uniquely positioned to counsel patients regarding sun-protective behaviors. Thus, a medical school curriculum that includes education about the sun's effect on health is needed for the prevention and early recognition of skin cancer in future patients.
a One participant did not enter his or her race.
a Data are given as No. (%) unless otherwise indicated.
b Quiz items were adapted from Liu et al.17 The correct answer is in boldface type.
b Survey items adapted from Liu et al.17
Abbreviation: SPF, sun protection factor.
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