Physicians Rarely Remind Patients to Use Sunscreen

(HealthDay News) – Physicians very rarely educate patients regarding the use of sunscreen and sun-protective behaviors, according to a study published online Sept. 4 in JAMA Dermatology.

Kristie L. Akamine, MD, from the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., and colleagues utilized data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey to identify patient visits to outpatient physician offices (January 1989–December 2010) during which sunscreen was recommended.

The researchers found that there were an estimated 18.3 billion patient visits nationwide and physicians mentioned sunscreen at approximately 12.83 million visits (0.07%). Patient visits associated with a diagnosis of skin disease had higher mention of sunscreen by physicians (0.9%). Dermatologists recorded the mention of sunscreen the most, but still they mentioned it at only 1.6% of all visits. White patients, particularly those in their eighth decade of life, heard about sunscreen the most, while children heard about it the least. The diagnosis of actinic keratosis was most commonly associated with sunscreen recommendation.

“Despite encouragement to provide patient education regarding sunscreen use and sun-protective behaviors, the rate at which physicians are mentioning sunscreen at patient visits is quite low, even for patients with a history of skin cancer,” the authors write.

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