Patient knowledge of FDA-mandated sunscreen labeling terminology: A cross-sectional survey

Giselle Prado, Ryan M. Svoboda, Rebeca W. Teplitz, Aaron S. Farberg, Darrell S. Rigel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Insufficient understanding of sunscreen labeling terminology is a barrier to effective use. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued the “final rule” on sunscreen labeling in 2011, in an effort to promote effective usage. However, relatively little is known about patient knowledge of sunscreen labeling terminology. This study assesses the sunscreen labeling knowledge of dermatology patients, with an emphasis on understanding of the FDA-mandated wording. Methods: A validated survey was administered to consecutive dermatology office patients. Respondents answered questions about sunscreen use practices, sunscreen knowledge, and demographics. To assess their sunscreen knowledge, they responded to questions on the concepts of sun protection factor, broad-spectrum, and waterproof. Results: A total of 334 patients completed surveys. Only 8.7% of patients correctly answered all three questions related to sunscreen labeling terminology. Patients with a personal history of skin cancer were more likely to answer more than half of the questions correctly (P = 0.004). Older persons and those with darker skin types were most likely to answer all questions incorrectly. Conclusion: General understanding of sunscreen labeling was poor, and a minority of consumers comprehended the key features of sunscreen labeling. This knowledge gap appeared to be slightly smaller in the subpopulation of patients with a personal history of skin cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-147
Number of pages7
JournalPhotodermatology Photoimmunology and Photomedicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Food and Drug Administration
  • skin cancer
  • sun protection factor
  • sunburn
  • sunscreen
  • ultraviolet


Dive into the research topics of 'Patient knowledge of FDA-mandated sunscreen labeling terminology: A cross-sectional survey'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this