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Celebrate 10 Years with Cancer Control P.L.A.N.E.T.

Preventing Skin Cancer: Interventions in Outdoor Recreational and Tourism Settings

Task Force Finding

The Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends interventions in outdoor recreational and tourism settings that include skin cancer prevention messages or educational activities for visitors, and may also provide free sunscreen of SPF 15 or greater. This recommendation is based on strong evidence of effectiveness for increasing sunscreen use and avoidance of sun exposure, and decreasing incidence of sunburns.

Read the full Task Force Finding and Rationale Statement for more detailed information on the finding, including implementation issues, potential benefits and harms, and evidence gaps.

Intervention Definition

Interventions to promote sun-protective behaviors among visitors to outdoor recreational and tourism settings include at least one of the following:

  • Educational approaches (e.g., providing informational messages about sun protection to visitors through instruction, small media such as posters or brochures, or both)
  • Activities designed to influence knowledge, attitudes, or behavior of visitors (e.g., modeling or demonstrating behaviors)
  • Environmental approaches to encourage sun protection (e.g., providing sunscreen or shade)
  • Policies to support sun protection practices (e.g., requiring sun protective clothing)

These interventions may be directed at adults, children, or both. They may also have components directed at improving sun protection behavior among employees (see related review).

Visitors to outdoor recreational and tourism settings may have an increased risk of excessive UV radiation exposure for several reasons, including:

  • Spending an extensive amount of time outdoors
  • Unfamiliarity with the settings, which may have high UV radiation intensity due to factors such latitude, altitude, and light reflective surfaces (e.g., water, sand, snow)
  • Desire among vacationers to be carefree

Operators of outdoor recreational and tourist facilities can play an important role in helping to address the heightened risk of sunburns and ultimately skin cancer due to these factors by ensuring that visitors are aware of the risks and are able to effectively mitigate them.

About the Systematic Review

The Task Force finding is based on evidence from a Community Guide systematic review published in 2004 (Saraiya et al., 9 studies on behavioral outcomes; search period January 1966 – June 2000) combined with more recent evidence (8 studies, search period June 2000 – April 2013). The systematic 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 2002 Task Force finding on Educational and Policy Approaches in Outdoor Recreational Settings.

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Supporting Materials

Publication Status

Full peer-reviewed articles of this systematic review will be posted on the Community Guide website when published. Subscribe External Web Site Icon to be notified when we post these publications or other materials. See our library for previous Community Guide publications on this and other topics.

Promotional Materials

Community Guide News

More promotional materials for Community Guide reviews about Preventing Skin Cancer.


Saraiya M, Glanz K, Briss PA, et al. Interventions to prevent skin cancer by reducing exposure to ultraviolet radiation: a systematic review Adobe PDF File [PDF - 788 kB]. Am J Prev Med 2004;27(5):422-66.


The findings and conclusions on this page are those of the Community Preventive Services Task Force and do not necessarily represent those of CDC. Task Force evidence-based recommendations are not mandates for compliance or spending. Instead, they provide information and options for decision makers and stakeholders to consider when determining which programs, services, and policies best meet the needs, preferences, available resources, and constraints of their constituents.

Sample Citation

The content of publications of the Guide to Community Preventive Services is in the public domain. Citation as to source, however, is appreciated. Sample citation: Guide to Community Preventive Services. Preventing skin cancer: interventions in outdoor recreational and tourism settings (abbreviated). www.thecommunityguide.org/cancer/skin/education-policy/outdoorrecreation.html. Last updated: MM/DD/YYYY.

Review completed: April 2014