Sunscreen use in NCAA collegiate athletes: Identifying targets for intervention and barriers to use

Ashley Wysong, Hayes Gladstone, David Kim, Bharathi Lingala, Joyce Copeland, Jean Y. Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Objective: Ultraviolet radiation is a known risk factor for skin cancer and photoaging. Athletes are at high-risk with frequent sun exposure during peak hours of ultraviolet radiation. The aim of this study was to identify attitudes, personal characteristics, and barriers associated with sunscreen use among a high-risk athlete population. Methods: A cross-sectional survey study conducted in 290 collegiate athletes from April 2010 to June 2011 at Duke and Stanford Universities. Results: The average athlete spent 4. h per day and 10. months per year training outdoors. While 96% agreed that sunscreen helps prevent skin cancer, over 50% never used sunscreen and 75% used sunscreen 3 or fewer days/week. Having a coach or athletic administrator discuss photoprotection was significantly associated with sunscreen use. Predictors of sunscreen use were female gender, sunburns in the last year, belief at risk for skin cancer, knowing someone with skin cancer, and being worried about wrinkles, sun burns, or skin cancer. Conclusion: Continued identification of characteristics and barriers to sunscreen use can lead to targeted interventions and education in this high-risk group of collegiate athletes with early and elevated total lifetime ultraviolet exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)493-496
Number of pages4
JournalPreventive Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Athletes
  • Coaches
  • Photoprotection
  • Skin cancer
  • Sport
  • Sunburn
  • Sunscreen
  • UV radiation
  • UVA protection
  • UVB protection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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