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A content analysis of news coverage of skin cancer prevention and detection, 1979-2002
Unformatted Document Text:  Skin cancer news coverage 15 While prevention was discussed less frequently in stories about policy (16.1%), prevention was mentioned approximately equally in stories about celebrities (24.0%), new research (29.0%), and other topics (30.8%). Primary prevention Even when skin cancer prevention was discussed (N = 283), specific sun protection practices were not always mentioned. None of the primary prevention behaviors (sun avoidance, wearing protective clothing, using sunscreen, and avoiding indoor tanning) were mentioned in approximately 12% (34 of 283) of prevention articles. These stories consisted largely of reports about how much skin cancer could be prevented if we reduced ozone- depleting omissions by a certain amount. Using sunscreen was the most frequently cited prevention behavior. The majority of stories that discussed prevention—65.7% (186 of 283)—suggested the use of sunscreen as a method for preventing skin cancer. Cited somewhat less commonly was avoiding the sun: 55.1% (156 of 283) of prevention stories explicitly stated that avoiding the sun would help prevent skin cancer. Wearing protective clothing to shield the skin from the sun’s harmful rays was mentioned in 39.9% (113 of 283) of prevention stories. One prevention strategy rarely mentioned was the avoidance of indoor tanning lamps or tanning beds: only 11% (31 of 283) of prevention stories discussed the dangers of indoor tanning, and suggesting that proper skin cancer prevention includes avoiding indoor tanning. As percentages of the total number of stories primarily about skin cancer, mentions of specific prevention behaviors were uncommon: only 21.1% (186 of 880) 17.8% (156 of 880), 12.8% (113 of 880), and 3.5% (31 of 880) of all skin cancer stories mentioned sunscreen, sun avoidance, protective clothing, and avoidance of indoor tanning respectively. Media coverage of these four prevention behaviors is charted over time in Figure 4.

Authors: Stryker, Jo. and Solky, Benjamin.
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Skin cancer news coverage
15
While prevention was discussed less frequently in stories about policy (16.1%), prevention was
mentioned approximately equally in stories about celebrities (24.0%), new research (29.0%), and
other topics (30.8%).
Primary prevention
Even when skin cancer prevention was discussed (N = 283), specific sun protection
practices were not always mentioned. None of the primary prevention behaviors (sun
avoidance, wearing protective clothing, using sunscreen, and avoiding indoor tanning) were
mentioned in approximately 12% (34 of 283) of prevention articles. These stories consisted
largely of reports about how much skin cancer could be prevented if we reduced ozone-
depleting omissions by a certain amount.
Using sunscreen was the most frequently cited prevention behavior. The majority of
stories that discussed prevention—65.7% (186 of 283)—suggested the use of sunscreen as a
method for preventing skin cancer. Cited somewhat less commonly was avoiding the sun:
55.1% (156 of 283) of prevention stories explicitly stated that avoiding the sun would help
prevent skin cancer. Wearing protective clothing to shield the skin from the sun’s harmful rays
was mentioned in 39.9% (113 of 283) of prevention stories. One prevention strategy rarely
mentioned was the avoidance of indoor tanning lamps or tanning beds: only 11% (31 of 283) of
prevention stories discussed the dangers of indoor tanning, and suggesting that proper skin
cancer prevention includes avoiding indoor tanning. As percentages of the total number of
stories primarily about skin cancer, mentions of specific prevention behaviors were uncommon:
only 21.1% (186 of 880) 17.8% (156 of 880), 12.8% (113 of 880), and 3.5% (31 of 880) of all skin
cancer stories mentioned sunscreen, sun avoidance, protective clothing, and avoidance of
indoor tanning respectively. Media coverage of these four prevention behaviors is charted over
time in Figure 4.


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