Incidental sun exposures as a source of sunburn among rural compared to urban residents in the United States

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4 Scopus citations


Purpose: Melanoma incidence is higher in rural than in urban areas in the United States, possibly due to greater incidental sun exposures from rural outdoor-focused lifestyles and occupational patterns. Our aim was to compare activities at the time of a sunburn between rural and urban residents. Methods: Utilizing the nationally representative 2019 cross-sectional Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS), we report odds ratios (OR) and confidence intervals (CI) from logistic regression models comparing self-reported activities at most recent sunburn among rural versus urban adults. Findings: About one-third of participants (37.2%) reported a sunburn in the past year, higher in urban (38.0%) than in rural populations (32.5%). At the time of most recent sunburn, swimming (36.6%) and working outside a home (29.4%) were the most commonly reported activities. Working on a job (30.4% vs 10.4%; OR: 3.30, 95% CI: 1.33, 8.20) or outside the house (38.7% vs 28.1%; OR: 1.86, 95% CI: 1.03, 3.33) were more common, while exercising or sunbathing were less common, among rural compared to urban participants. Conclusions: Incidental sun exposures during outdoor-focused rural occupations and work outside the house may be critical skin cancer prevention targets in rural populations; outdoor exercise and sunbathing may be more important in urban populations; incidental exposures while swimming may be important in both populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)402-407
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Rural Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded in part by the National Cancer Institute NIH grant P30 CA77598 (Principal Investigator: D. Yee) utilizing the Biostatistics Core shared resource of the Masonic Cancer Center. R.I. Vogel was supported by a Young Investigator Award from the Melanoma Research Alliance ( ). The funders had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; or decision to submit the manuscript for publication. Melanoma Research Alliance 568166

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. The Journal of Rural Health published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of National Rural Health Association.


  • incidental sun exposures
  • melanoma risk
  • rural versus urban sun behaviors
  • sunburn

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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