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Open Access State SUNucate Laws, the Popularity of Google Searches for Terms Related to Sun Protection, and Youth Sunscreen Use

This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND licence.

Objective: Our objective was to determine whether state SUNucate laws – which have been adopted by 27 states and require schools to permit youths to carry and apply sunscreen on school grounds – were associated with changes in Google Search behavior for words and phrases related to sun protection as well as self-reported sunscreen use by youths. Methods: This was an observational study examining: (1) Google Trends search popularity for terms such as "sunscreen" and "SPF" by state, month, and year for 2004-2022; and (2) self-reported sunscreen use by high school youth in the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey during 2009-2019. Results: State SUNucate laws were associated with increased Google search popularity of terms related to sun protection. Google search popularity for 'sunscreen' increased by 27.2% (95% CI 12.67% to 41.7%; p < .001). State SUNucate laws were also associated with increased sunscreen use among high school youths by 8.3% (95% CI 0.014% to 15.0%; p < .05). Conclusion: State SUNucate laws may be effective tools for increasing population search behavior for sun protection terms and youth sunscreen use.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Vanderbilt University, Department of Economics, Nashville, TN, United States 2: Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Department of Dermatology, Nashville, TN, United States 3: University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Resource Economics, Amherst, MA, United States

Publication date: August 1, 2023

This article was made available online on August 21, 2023 as a Fast Track article with title: "State SUNucate Laws, the Popularity of Google Searches for Terms Related to Sun Protection, and Youth Sunscreen Use".

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