For citation purposes: Boyers L, Karimkhani C, Gamble R, Dellavalle RP. Novel and promising sun safety interventions: UV photography and shade structures. OA Dermatology 2014 Mar 09;2(1):6.

Critical review

Health Services

Novel and promising sun safety interventions: UV photography and shade structures.

L Boyers, C Karimkhani, R Gamble, R Dellavalle,

Authors affiliations

(1) Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, D.C., USA

(2) Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY, USA

(3) Department of Dermatology, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO, USA

(4) Department of Epidemiology, Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO, USA

(5) Dermatology Service, Eastern Colorado Health Care System, US Department of Veteran Affairs, Denver, CO, USA

* Corresponding author Email:



Ultraviolet (UV) exposure is a well-established risk factor for skin cancer. Sun protection campaigns and efforts can use a combination of educational, behavioural, and environmental interventions to address sun safety at the individual and community level. This critical review aims to investigate two novel sun safety interventions, UV photography and shade structures.

UV photography and shade structures: UV photography is an appearance-based intervention that has demonstrated efficacy in various studies focusing on children, university students, outdoor workers, and snow sport conference attendees. One study noted that phenotypic melanoma risk factors were significant predictors of sun damage severity assessed by UV photography. In addition, UV photography positively impacted sun protection intentions, perceptions of photoaging and sun protection, and increase reported sun protection behaviours. The environmental intervention of shade structures enables reduction of UV exposure and the degree of protection gained depends on numerous factors including location, surrounding environment, materials used for construction, and time of day. Certain features increase use of shaded areas such as tables and chairs and temperature greater than 27 degrees Celsius.


UV photography has the potential to affect beliefs, opinions, and, ultimately, behaviours in a diverse range of populations. As the academic community continues to document success stories in the literature, UV photography has a unique potential for community outreach, particularly for high-risk or vulnerable populations. Alternatively, shade structures demonstrate efficacy when constructed properly with optimized features for use. The novelty with this intervention is its inherent ability to affect the environment, thus, there is no reliance on individual motivations to change behaviour.


Both UV photography and shade structures represent novel and promising sun safety interventions that warrant further use and investigation in the future.

Licensee OA Publishing London 2014. Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY)