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Many Providers Fail to Discuss Sun-Safe Behaviors With Patients

Skin cancer counseling often takes backseat due to lack of time, other pressing health issues

THURSDAY, Aug. 22, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Less than half of health care providers discuss sun-safe behaviors with patients, according to a study published in the September issue of Preventive Medicine.

Dawn M. Holman, M.P.H., from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues used data from the 2016 DocStyles, a web-based survey of U.S. primary care providers, to evaluate skin cancer prevention counseling practices among 1,506 providers.

The researchers found that almost half (48.5 percent) of all providers reported regularly counseling on sun protection, with 27.4 percent reporting regularly counseling on indoor tanning. Regular counseling was more common among providers who had practiced medicine for at least 16 years (sun protection: adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR], 1.27; indoor tanning: aPR, 1.38), had treated sunburn in the previous year (sun protection: aPR, 1.78; indoor tanning: aPR, 2.42), and had awareness of U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations (sun protection: aPR, 1.73; indoor tanning: aPR, 2.70). There was a lower likelihood of regularly counseling on sun protection and indoor tanning for providers reporting barriers to counseling (sun protection: one to three barriers, aPR, 0.82; at least four barriers, aPR, 0.80; indoor tanning: one to three barriers, aPR, 0.72; at least four barriers, aPR, 0.61). Lack of time (58.1 percent), more urgent health concerns (49.1 percent), and patient disinterest (46.3 percent) were the most commonly reported barriers to counseling.

“We know that clinicians are pressed for time, but we also know that skin cancer is a significant public health problem, and it’s important that we create opportunities to regularly discuss prevention strategies with our patients, and with parents of young children,” a coauthor said in a statement.

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