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Practice Gaps |

Counseling Patients About Sun Protection Related to an Active Outdoor Life Comment on “Environmental Cues to Ultraviolet Radiation and Personal Sun Protection in Outdoor Winter Recreation”

Eliot N. Mostow, MD, MPH
Arch Dermatol. 2010;146(11):1247-1248. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2010.305.
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While the effects of UV light exposure related to cutaneous malignant tumors are well documented, especially with respect to nonmelanoma skin cancers, dermatologists commonly counsel their patients generically without specific information related to real-world behaviors. Multiple studies related to patients on “beach” vacations have increased awareness of sun protection at the beach.1,2 While dermatologists in mountain states might be more accustomed to reminding their patients about using sun protection while snow skiing or participating in other outdoor winter recreational activities, dermatologists in other locations taking care of patients who travel to participate in winter sports may not be in the habit of counseling. By not addressing specific activities and just promoting “sun protection” generically, we risk having our message become monotonous and not specific enough to result in action by the patient. The clinical practice gap is that many dermatologists may miss sun protection counseling opportunities for patients planning winter outdoor recreation, such as skiing. We may elicit inadequate information related to our patients' recreational activities; thus, we cannot assess their potential UV exposure and protection practices, especially among those engaging in snow skiing. Closing this gap should result in decreased UV damage and, ultimately, fewer skin cancers with improved patient outcomes.

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