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Number of sunburns in last 12 months

SUNBRNN is a 3 column wide variable with no implied decimals.


000: Never
013: 13+ times (top code in 2020-forward)
996: NIU
997: Unknown-refused
998: Unknown-not ascertained
999: Unknown-don't know


For sample adults, SUNBRNN reports the number of times they had a sunburn during the previous year.


In the 2005 and forward survey form and in the 2000 Field Representative's Manual, interviewers were instructed to read, if necessary, "By 'sunburn' we mean even a small part of your skin turns red or hurts for 12 hours or more. Also include burns from sunlamps and other indoor tanning devices."

The definition of "sunburn" included in the Field Representative's Manuals for earlier years reads:

By "sunburn" we mean your skin turns pink or red or hurts for 12 hours or more. As sunburn can include hurting, peeling, and blistering, it also applies to darker skin. If asked how much skin needs to be burned, include "a burn on even a small part of your body" such as the nose or the ears.

For more information, please see SUN1HR.


Although the universe and the response category format did not change, the minor change in the question supplemental text in the survey form could have affected responses in 2005 and 2010. While researchers should be aware of this issue, this variable is highly comparable over time.

Additionally, while the basic meaning of this variable is completely comparable over time, 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; 2005; 2010; 2015: Sample adults age 18+.
  • 2020: Sample adults age 18+ who had a sunburn in the last 12 months (SUNBRNYR).


  • 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015, 2020