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Skin Cancer: Mass Media


What the CPSTF Found

About The Systematic Review

The Task Force finding is based on evidence from a systematic review of 4 studies (search period January 1966 – May 2011). The review was conducted on behalf of the Task Force by a team of specialists in systematic review methods, and in research, practice, and policy related to preventing skin cancer. This finding updates and replaces the 2003 Task Force finding on Mass Media Campaigns [PDF - 289 kB].


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Summary of Results

Four studies were included in the evidence review, and results showed favorable effects for the following outcomes.

  • Sun protective behaviors (3 studies)
    • Interventions led to overall increases in sun protective behaviors (e.g., use of sunscreen, protective clothing, hats, and shade) among adults and children.
  • Risk behaviors (2 studies)
    • One study showed that increased exposure to televised messages about sun protection (1987-2002) was associated with a decrease in amount of exposed skin on the average person's body (2.0% decrease per 100 target audience rating points [TARP] increase in advertising intensity)
    • Another study showed an anti-sunbed campaign resulted in decreased use of tanning beds.
      • Overall incidence of tanning bed use (odds ratio [OR]=0.61; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.54, ‑0.69)
      • Proportion of children (<13 years) who had ever used tanning beds (‑5 percentage points, p< 0.001)
      • Proportion of teens (13-15 years) who used tanning beds (‑10 percentage points, p<0.001)

Summary of Economic Evidence

An economic review of this intervention was not conducted because the Task Force did not have enough information to determine if the intervention works.


Applicability of this intervention across different settings and populations was not assessed because the Task Force did not have enough information to determine if the intervention works.

Evidence Gaps

Each Community Preventive Services Task Force (Task Force) review identifies critical evidence gaps—areas where information is lacking. Evidence gaps can exist whether or not a recommendation is made. In cases when the Task Force finds insufficient evidence to determine whether an intervention strategy works, evidence gaps encourage researchers and program evaluators to conduct more effectiveness studies. When the Task Force recommends an intervention, evidence gaps highlight missing information that would help users determine if the intervention could meet their particular needs. For example, evidence may be needed to determine where the intervention will work, with which populations, how much it will cost to implement, whether it will provide adequate return on investment, or how users should structure or deliver the intervention to ensure effectiveness. Finally, evidence may be missing for outcomes different from those on which the Task Force recommendation is based.

Identified Evidence Gaps

  • High-quality studies are needed on the effectiveness of mass media interventions to reduce UV exposure, including:
    • Studies with unexposed comparison communities
    • Studies assessing the varying effects of intervention intensity
    • Interrupted time series studies
  • More evidence is needed to determine variability in the effectiveness of interventions by type of message (e.g., information only versus persuasive messages), or types of channel used (e.g., internet, newspaper).
  • More research is needed to examine interventions that use social media to disseminate messages.

Study Characteristics

  • Studies were conducted in Australia (2 studies), the United States (1 study), and Denmark (1 study).
  • The studies included in this review evaluated mass media interventions that delivered persuasive massages over varying time periods to influence attitudes and behaviors.
  • Two of the included studies evaluated the effectiveness of mass media interventions when implemented alone, and two evaluated mass media interventions used in combination with small media (e.g., brochures).