Skip directly to searchSkip directly to the site navigationSkip directly to the page's main content

Health Indicator Report of Sunburn Prevalence

Sunburn is a risk factor for skin cancer, the most common of all cancers. About 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Melanoma, a more dangerous type of skin cancer, accounted for more than 73,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. in 2015.


**No NJBRFS data available for 2019 Estimates are age-adjusted using the 2000 U.S. standard population

Data Source

Behavioral Risk Factor Survey, Center for Health Statistics, New Jersey Department of Health, []

Data Interpretation Issues

Data for this indicator report are from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), an ongoing survey of adults regarding their health-related behaviors, health conditions, and preventive services. Data are collected in all 50 states, D.C., and U.S. territories. Responses have been weighted to reflect the New Jersey adult population by age, sex, ethnicity, geographic region, marital status, education level, home ownership and type of phone ownership. The survey is conducted using scientific telephone survey methods for landline and cellular phones (with cellular since 2011). The landline phone portion of the survey excludes adults living in group quarters such as college dormitories, nursing homes, military barracks, and prisons. The cellular phone portion of the survey includes adult students living in college dormitories but excludes other group quarters. Beginning with 2011, the BRFSS updated its surveillance methods by adding in calls to cell phones and changing its weighting methods. These changes improve BRFSS' ability to take into account the increasing proportion of U.S. adults using only cellular telephones as well as to adjust survey data to improve the representativeness of the estimates generated from the survey. Results have been adjusted for the probability of selection of the respondent, and have been weighted to the adult population by age, gender, phone type, detailed race/ethnicity, renter/owner, education, marital status, and geographic area. The "missing" and "don't know" responses are removed before calculating a percentage.


The proportion of adults aged 18 years and older who report having a sunburn at least one time in the past year.


Number of persons aged 18 years and older who report having a sunburn at least one time in the past 12 months.


Total number of persons aged 18 and older interviewed during the same survey period.

Healthy People Objective: Reduce the proportion of adults aged 18 years and older who report sunburn

U.S. Target: 33.8 percent
State Target: 21.5 percent

Other Objectives

'''Healthy New Jersey 2020 Objective CA-18''': Reduce the proportion of adults aged 18 years and older who report sunburn to 21.5% among the total population, 30.7% among Whites, 4.5% among Blacks, 11.6% among Hispanics, and 7.4% among Asians.

How Are We Doing?

In 2020, about 36% of New Jersey adults reported they had a sunburn in the past year.

What Is Being Done?

Seventy percent of Regional Chronic Disease Coalitions have implemented Choose Your Cover program as part of their deliverable to provide skin cancer awareness, education and free screenings. The Melanoma screening initiative was first developed and implemented in 2008 by the Ocean County Cancer Coalition, the NJ Office of Cancer Control and Prevention, and the NJ Governor's Task Force on Cancer Control, Early Detection and Treatment. The program has since expanded rapidly, from the original first site, to 50 sites statewide. Choose Your Cover now brings free skin cancer screenings, complimentary sunscreen and a wealth of vital skin safety information, involving cancer detection, prevention and sun smart precautions directly to the at-risk populations who spend an extended time in the sun. The skin cancer education and screening events are conducted primarily at beaches, pools, and outdoor parks throughout New Jersey in the summer. A collaboration of physicians, advanced practice nurses, hospitals, health departments, community organizations, municipalities, lifeguards, corporations and volunteers have joined together to fight melanoma to reduce the risk of skin cancer.

Evidence-based Practices

Rates of skin cancer, the most common cancer in the United States, are increasing. The most preventable risk factor for skin cancer is unprotected ultraviolet (UV) exposure. Seeking to identify effective approaches to reducing the incidence of skin cancer by improving individual and community efforts to reduce unprotected UV exposure, the Task Force on Community Preventive Services conducted systematic reviews of community interventions to reduce exposure to ultraviolet light and increase protective behaviors. The Task Force found sufficient evidence to recommend two interventions that are based on improvements in sun protective or "covering-up" behavior (wearing protective clothing including long-sleeved clothing or hats). The two Task Force recommendations --- educational and policy approaches in primary schools, and educational and policy approaches for adults in outdoor recreational or tourism settings --- are based on improving covering-up behaviors. These recommendations represent tested interventions that promote decreased UV exposure at the community level.

Health Program Information

Since melanoma is the third most common skin cancer and about 65%-90% of melanomas are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, more skin cancer screenings and education events are being conducted at worksites where outside laborers (e.g., construction workers, horticulturalists, landscapers, farmers and crop workers) are exposed to dangerous UV light. The melanoma workgroup is exploring strategies to educating and reaching out to employers of outdoor workers to help them assess the risk of exposure and develop and adopt effective sun protection measures to reduce the risk of skin cancer.
Page Content Updated On 12/07/2022, Published on 05/23/2023
The information provided above is from the Department of Health's NJSHAD web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Sat, 02 March 2024 8:19:21 from Department of Health, New Jersey State Health Assessment Data Web site: ".

Content updated: no date