Sunscreen and Associated Risk in the News

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Abstract

News media provides a valuable channel for communicating health information to the public, recommending methods of prevention, and decreasing risk of illness or disease by influencing public behavior. The aim of this study was to understand public perception toward sunscreen by determining how sunscreen is most frequently portrayed in the media. This was achieved by collecting Canadian news articles on the subject of sunscreen published between January 2009 and June 2019 and analyzing themes and tone of the writing. Our findings demonstrate an overall positive representation of sunscreen (450, or 77%), mainly providing tips and recommendations on safe usage and application. Articles that negatively portrayed sunscreen (68, or 12%) focused on sunscreen recalls or adverse effects. The majority (486, or 83%) of articles were published in summer months and were focused on seasonal context. This research on sunscreen in the media and the influence it can have on skin cancer prevention behaviors is necessary in understanding how to utilize news sources to increase preventative behavior and decrease skin cancer rates. Further research should be conducted on risk perception of sunscreen use by members of the public before and after reading news articles.