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How often sunscreen used if outside on sunny day over 1 hour

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For sample adults, SUN1SNS reports how often they used sunscreen when outside for more than one hour on a sunny day.


In 2000, 2003, 2005, 2008 but not 2010 and forward, respondents were shown a flashcard listing the response categories, which included, "Always," "Most of the time," "Sometimes," "Rarely" and "Never." In 2010 and forward, respondents were read the same response categories but not shown a flashcard.

The question wording changed slightly over time. In 2000 and 2003, the question asks about, "a very sunny day." In 2005, 2008, 2010, and 2015, the question asks about, "a warm sunny day." In 2020 forward, the question simply asks about "a sunny day."

The 2000 and 2005 Field Representative's Manuals provide the following definition for sunscreen:

Sunscreens protect from too much sunlight which can cause sunburns. Sunscreens help to prevent other problems related to sun exposure, such as aging skin and precancerous growths. Sunscreens currently come in a variety of forms (such as gels, lotions, and sprays, and sticks).

The 2003 Field Representative's Manual provides a nearly identically worded definition for sunscreen. The 2003, 2008, 2010, and 2015 Field Representative's Manual provides a nearly identically worded definition for sunscreen but also adds the synonym "sunblock" to the definition. There is not a specific definition for sunscreen in 2020.

In all years, the Field Representative's Manual instructs interviewers not to read the choice, "don't go out in sun." Further, this choice does not appear on the flashcard that respondents are shown in years in which a flashcard is used. In other words, respondents are not given this choice, but it is an acceptable response.

For more information, please see SUN1HR.


The slight change in the phrasing of the question from, "a very sunny day" to, "a warm sunny day" to, "a sunny day" does not seem likely to make responses substantially different; however, researchers should be aware of this change.

Additionally, major questionnaire changes introduced in 2019 may affect comparability with earlier years. The NHIS questionnaire was substantially redesigned in 2019 to introduce a different data collection structure and new content. For more information on changes in terminology, universes, and data collection methods beginning in 2019, please see the user note.


  • 2000; 2003; 2005; 2008; 2010; 2015: Sample adults age 18+.
  • 2020: Sample adults age 18+.


  • 2000, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2015, 2020


  • 2000, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2015, 2020 : SAMPWEIGHT