Testing General Versus Specific Behavioral Focus in Messaging for the Promotion of Sun Protection Behaviors

Skin cancer prevention practices aim to reduce exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation that  causes skin cancer. There are several behaviors that can protect the skin from the harmful radiation – using sunscreen, wearing hats and shirts, and seeking shade.  Researchers at Penn conducted an experiment with white men and women between the ages of 18 – 49 years old, to see if specific health communication messages would change their intentions to protect themselves from the sun. Researchers asked participants to watch videos, and then to report whether they would be more or less likely to use the protection method featured. They also viewed messages that contained more than one protective behavior.

The results of the experiment showed that messages which emphasized only one sun protection behavior with general sun safety messaging were more promising than those that focused on multiple behaviors.   In some cases, men and women responded differently. More women in the study felt strongly that they would miss out on activities if they applied sunscreen, but they felt positive about protecting their head and face from the sun by covering up. On the other hand, men more often felt they would miss out on activities if they sought shade.

Investigators did not see specific messages rising to the top in this study, and suggest that focusing on a single sun protection behavior initially would be more effective.  This is seen as a first step, as longer communication campaigns may be needed to achieve lasting changes. One viewing of a message about protection is not enough to change a person’s behavior when it comes to sun protection methods.

Read the full paper here.

Bleakley A, Jordan A, Strasser A, Lazovich D, Glanz K. Testing General Versus Specific Behavioral Focus in Messaging for the Promotion of Sun Protection Behaviors, Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 2019 Oct 4

Taking more than one precaution to prevent skin cancer

In the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers evaluate the beliefs in sun protection behaviors versus the risk of skin cancer. It is known that practicing multiple behaviors against harmful UV rays, yet few adults report practicing more than one recommended behavior. This study examines the extent to which skin cancer prevention behaviors are combined and may follow a pattern of compensation in which an individual’s performance of one behavior (e.g., wearing sunscreen) precludes performing other protective behaviors (e.g., wearing a hat).

Read the paper here


Bleakley A, Lazovich D, Jordan AB, Glanz K. Compensation Behaviors and Skin Cancer Prevention, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 55, Issue 6, December 2018, Pages 848-855

Coverage of Hawaii’s ban on certain sunscreens and the risks involved

Hawaii proposed and then passed a bill banning sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate in order to “preserve marine ecosystems.” PRC director and Penn professor, Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH, co-authored an op-ed for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser titled, “Suncreens save lives, have limited impact on coral reefs.” While on sabbatical for the first part of 2018 as a Visiting Professor at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center, Dr. Glanz teamed up with Kevin Cassel, president of the Hawaii Skin Cancer Coalition, on this piece published, March 29, 2018.

Glanz and Cassel start by acknowledging that sunscreen is an important factor in preventing skin cancer. They call on legislators to fund more research on the ingredients in sunscreen and the effects they have on Hawaii’s natural resources.

Their article caught the attention of the local media and they called on Dr. Glanz to present her views on the impact this decision could have on those at risk for skin cancer. She mentions that the higher price for sunscreens that don’t contain those ingredients could prevent people from purchasing those products. “The cost of these so-called reef-friendly products for sunscreen ranges anywhere from two times to as much as six to eight times as much as what is on the shelves now.” She points out that it isn’t just beachgoers that are affected, there are a number of jobs in Hawaii requiring people to work outside and they could be the most at risk.

READ the article here.
WATCH Karen’s interview with Hawaii News Now 
LISTEN to her interview with SiriusXM, Knowledge@Wharton with Dan Loney on May 17, 2018. 

Mahealani Richardson of Hawaii News Now interviewed Karen Glanz and Kevin Cassel on this topic and the story aired April 4, 2018.

Click here to see the story on Hawaii News Now.

After Hawaii passes the legislation, Mahealani Richardson gets an update.















Listen to Karen’s interview with Dan Loney at SiriusXM Knowledge@Wharton, (Wharton Business Radio) on May 17, 2018 HERE.

Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH, UPenn PRC Director, Keynote Speaker at Int’l Conference on Skin Cancer Prevention

FireShot 'International UV  Conference'-Melbourne12-15 Karen Glanz presentKGlanz-UVConference-Melbourne12-15

UPenn PRC Director Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH, was a Keynote Speaker at the 3rd International Conference on UV and Skin Cancer Prevention in Melbourne Australia, Dec 7 – 11, 2015.








Speaking on the topic, “Effectiveness of Prevention on Melanoma and Non-Melanoma Reduction,” Dr. Glanz also was a panelist with Melanie Wakefield, PhD, of the Cancer Council, Victoria, Australia, and a consultant on the UPenn PRC Skin Cancer Prevention Communication Project, and Louisa Gordon, MPH, PhD, of Griffith University, NSW, Australia