Higher Ultraviolet Radiation Exposure Among Rural-Dwelling Versus Urban-Dwelling Adults and Children: Implications for Skin Cancer Prevention

Skin Cancer

Nagelhout ES, et al. J Community Health 2020.


Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure is a primary risk factor for the development of melanoma. However, adults and adolescents often do not engage in preventive behaviors to reduce UVR exposure. Rural residents may be at higher risk for melanoma due to lower use of sun protection strategies, which increases their overall UVR exposure compared to those who live in urban areas. The purpose of this study was to evaluate differences in UVR exposure between rural and urban residents in a geographic

area with high incidence of melanoma. Children (aged 8-17 years) and adults (≥ 18 years) from rural and urban areas of Utah were asked to wear a UVR monitoring device for 14 days. The sample included 97 children and 97 adults. Data was collected from June to October 2018. Non-parametric Mann-Whitney tests and quantile regression were used to compare UVR exposure levels between urban and rural participants, separately for adults and children. For adults, rural residence significantly increased total UVR dose ( β: 24.6; 95% CI 3.75, 42.74) and the UVR dose during peak UVR hours among participants with the highest UVR doses (β: 16.3; 95% CI 17.4, 24.63). Rural children exhibited significantly higher UVR doses for peak UVR hours for the entire study period (β: 4.14; 95% CI 0.83, 7.46) and on weekdays (β: 0.39; 95% CI 0.05, 0.73). The findings from this study indicate that rural residents may receive higher levels of UVR exposure than urban residents, and that prevention efforts could be tailored to address these geographical differences.