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Dermatology Online Journal

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Analysis of population inquiry on practices for ultraviolet radiation protection


UV radiation exposure is one of the key modifiable risk factors for skin cancer. Hence, patient education regarding skin protection and sunscreen use is of tremendous importance to public health. To better understand patient practices regarding skin protection in a population level, we looked into the Internet search behavior of the US-based population. We investigated patient inquires on the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announcements regarding sunscreen use by quantifying search terms such as “broad spectrum sunscreen”, “sunscreen” and “sunblock” with Google Trends, a novel methodology for understanding internet search practices. Our findings show that “broad spectrum sunscreen” searches were significantly increased post 2011 FDA announcements, which suggest increased public awareness regarding the importance of broad spectrum protection. It is encouraging these preliminary results indicate that skin protection practices are being increasingly investigated by the general public and may serve as a novel approach for identifying areas of improvement regarding patient education on the reduction of the risk for skin cancer.

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