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Use of AFIX-based Strategies for HPV Vaccination in Florida

Use of AFIX-based Strategies for HPV Vaccination in Florida

Dr. Barbara Walkosz, a Senior Scientist at Klein Buendel (KB), is one of several authors on a recent publication reporting on Florida pediatricians’ use of AFIX-based strategies for human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination of adolescents and young adults. The report is published in the journal Preventive Medicine. Research collaborators (coauthors) are from the Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, the University of South Florida College of Medicine, Pediatric Partners, the Indiana University School of Medicine, and the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health.

HPV vaccination is recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to significantly reduce the incidence of cervical, vaginal, oral, and other cancers caused by the sexually transmitted virus. A series of vaccinations are recommended for adolescents and young adults, preferably before the onset of sexual activity (9-26 years of age).

However, rates of HPV vaccination in Florida and the U.S. are disappointingly low – less than 50% for girls and less than 40% for boys. In an effort to increase HPV vaccination of pediatric patients, the CDC created and implements the AFIX quality improvement program with healthcare providers. AFIX stands for Assessment, Feedback, Incentives, and the exchange of information – the four key strategies of the program which is delivered to clinics by local health departments.

The Preventive Medicine paper reports on the results of a cross-sectional survey of a representative sample of 770 pediatric and family medicine physicians in Florida to assess the use of the AFIX strategies. Less than half of the physicians surveyed reported implementing any AFIX strategies, leaving room for program engagement, uptake, and improvement.

Uptake of MC1R Testing for Melanoma Risk

Uptake of MC1R Testing for Melanoma Risk

The use of personalized medicine or tailoring medicine based on sequencing and analyzing an individual’s DNA, is drastically changing cancer research and treatment, risk assessment and clinical practices1, and skin cancer is one area being affected by this research.2 Currently, melanoma in U.S. Hispanic populations is on the rise and despite melanoma being more common in Caucasians than Hispanics, a melanoma diagnosis is more likely to be fatal for Hispanics.3

In a study recently published in JAMA Dermatology, several researchers (lead author Dr. Jennifer Hay) including Dr. David Buller from Klein Buendel, examined interest and uptake, as well as demographic and skin cancer risk factor covariates of interest and uptake, of the melanocortin-1 receptor gene (MC1R) saliva test among 499 adult participants recruited from diverse clinics in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Forty-four percent (44%) of participants were non-Hispanic white, 48% were Hispanic, and all were registered clinic patients for longer than six months, were 18-years of age or older, and spoke English or Spanish fluently. A study website log-in was given to participants to give them the option to log on and read three educational modules presenting the rationale and pros and cons of MC1R testing.

Results showed that almost 50% (n=232) of participants logged on to the website and that non-Hispanic whites and those with higher education were more likely to do so. Furthermore, participants with a history of sunburn and with at least one first-degree relative were also more likely to log on to the website. Of those who logged on, almost 90% (n=204) decided to request testing and a little over 80% (n=167) of those who requested testing returned the kit. Non-Hispanic whites and older participants had a higher rate of returning the kit.

Authors cite the large, diverse sample and the behavioral outcomes versus self-reported outcomes as strengths of the study while citing the single location and use of one primary care health system for recruitment as a limitation on generalizability. Lastly, authors conclude by calling for future research in socioeconomic and demographic discrepancies in interest and uptake of genetic testing in order to ensure ease of availability of genetic information seeking in the general population.


  1. Orchard C. Genomic medicine in the real world: “hope” and “hype”. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Web site. Available at: Published June 1, 2015. Accessed June 20, 2018.
  2. Genetics of skin cancer (PDQ) – health professional version: genetic testing. National Cancer Institute Web site. Available at: Updated June 14, 2018. Accessed June 20, 2018.
  3. Perez MI. Hispanics get skin cancer, too. Skin Cancer Foundation Web site. Available at: Published May 25, 2016. Accessed June 20, 2018.
Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Sun Safety

Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Sun Safety

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, with more than 5 million new cases diagnosed per year.1 As part of an effort to reduce incidence and mortality from skin cancer, the National Academy of Sciences hosted 19 experts from a variety of healthcare fields (including dermatology, behavioral medicine, public health, adolescent medicine, clinical health psychology, anthropology, and kinesiology). The experts, including Klein Buendel’s Director of Research, Dr. David Buller, met for two days in December 2016 to identify emerging themes in skin cancer prevention and control.

The report of this interdisciplinary collaboration and its five main culminating themes were published in JAMA Dermatology, a monthly peer-reviewed medical journal published by the American Medical Association.

The Emerging Themes for Skin Cancer Prevention and Control

  1. Expanding the definition of risk in order to better tailor sun safety programs, create guidelines that acknowledge the beneficial effects of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure and develop strategies that involve those from diverse backgrounds (e.g. lower socioeconomic status, those with darker skin).
  2. Intertwining sun protection strategies and messages with other health-related strategies and messages, such as physical activity recommendations, in order to prevent increasing a person’s risk for one disease despite decreasing it for another.
  3. Tailoring sun safety messages using multiple components (e.g. place, weather, personal values, individual risk factors and motivations) to better persuade individual behavior change through novel channels such as smartphones and social media platforms.
  4. Recognizing excessive tanning as an addiction in order to enable proper education for clinicians to give a diagnosis and create more effective treatments, including the possibility for pharmacological treatments.
  5. Scaling up evidence-based interventions to increase the impact and achieve population-level skin cancer prevention through identifying the most appropriate dissemination and implementation methods that are also cost-effective, wide-reaching and lead to behavior change.

Authors, including Dr. Buller, conclude by stating that future expert meetings should focus on sun protection in the pediatric population and that future research to address these themes will need to be interdisciplinary to decrease the burden of skin cancer.


  1. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2018. Available at: 2018. Accessed June 11, 2018.
Costs of Sun Safety Policy Implementation in California Elementary Schools

Costs of Sun Safety Policy Implementation in California Elementary Schools

Dr. Richard Meenan is presenting cost analysis data from the Sun Safe Schools project at the 4th International Conference on UV and Skin Cancer Prevention in Toronto, Canada May 1-4, 2018. His presentation focuses on the estimated costs of delivering a sun protection policy intervention to public elementary schools in California.

Implementation of sun safety practices is an important element of efforts by elementary schools to prevent skin cancer among their students. However, cost can significantly impede such implementation. The Sun Safe Schools (SSS) trial provided technical assistance to 118 California public elementary schools interested in implementing sun safety practices consistent with district policy. Intervention components were primarily an initial intervention meeting with school administrators, and follow-up email and telephone communications. Schools chose from 47 possible practices to implement.

Using a micro-costing approach, intervention delivery costs to the intervening organization were determined from the project tracking database supplemented by external sources. Labor and non-labor practice costs incurred by schools were estimated using a project template, which three authors reviewed for reasonableness. The 47 practice codes were collapsed into ten categories, such as outdoor shade and parent outreach. The 58 intervention schools implemented a total of 128 practices. Thirty-seven schools implemented at least one practice. Most common practices were parent outreach, education of students, and teacher training. Data on the average cost of participating in the school-based sun safety intervention will be presented at the conference.

In summary, costs to schools may hinder action on implementation, so cost control strategies should be considered when designing school-based sun safety interventions. Next steps are to determine: (1) the incremental implementation cost of the SSS intervention and (2) the incremental cost of the schools’ sun safety education and policy adoption actions induced by SSS.

This research was supported by a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (R01HD074416; Dr. Kim Reynolds, Claremont Graduate University, Principal Investigator). Collaborators include Kim Massie from Claremont Graduate University in California; Dr. David Buller, Julia Berteletti, and Mary Buller from Klein Buendel; Dr. Richard Meenan from the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon; and Dr. Jeff Ashley from Sun Safety for Kids in Los Angeles, California.

Klein Buendel is one of the North American hosts of the UV 2018 conference. The conference was organized by a joint planning committee of skin cancer prevention experts in Canada and the United States from Ryerson University in Toronto, the Canadian Dermatology Association in Ottawa, and Klein Buendel in Denver.

KB and Canada Host World’s Sun Safety Experts

KB and Canada Host World’s Sun Safety Experts

How can sun safety messages convince travelers to seek shade and cover up in the sun on vacation? How can the built environment help increase sun safety by maximizing access to shady areas? How can the use of Big Data drive people to be more “sun smart”?

These and many other issues will be front and center at the 4th International Conference on UV and Skin Cancer Prevention at Ryerson University in Toronto, May 1-4. Held in different countries around the world – the 2015 event was in Sydney, Australia – the International Conference on UV and Skin Cancer Prevention highlights the best in public health and community-based approaches to educating the public about the importance of UV protection.

“This fourth conference really aims to disrupt current ways of thinking in the field of skin cancer prevention by sparking new ideas, proposing new intersections between disciplines, and fostering new connections and collaborations,” said Ms. Mary Buller, conference organizer and Owner and President of Klein Buendel, a Golden, Colorado-based health communication research company whose investigators have been conducting skin cancer prevention research since the early 1990s.

While preventing skin cancer is the galvanizing theme of the conference, sessions cover topics ranging from urban planning, architectural design, public health and radiation science. The common goal is to increase public awareness – and public action – on the need for increasing shade and maximizing sun protection, not just during leisure pursuits, but also in the workplace.

“The sun is a workplace hazard that can cause skin cancer, heat stress and eye damage, yet these conditions are preventable with an increase in awareness,” said Dr. Thomas Tenkate, conference organizer and Director of the School of Occupational and Public Health at Ryerson University.

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Behavioral Counseling Recommendations for Skin Cancer Prevention

Behavioral Counseling Recommendations for Skin Cancer Prevention

In the March 20, 2018 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) published a recommendation statement on behavioral counseling to prevent skin cancer.

The publication updated the 2012 USPSTF recommendation on behavioral counseling for the prevention of skin cancer.

The USPSTF determined that behavioral counseling interventions are of moderate benefit in increasing sun protection behaviors in children, adolescents, and young adults with fair skin types (aged 6 months to 24 years old). They found adequate evidence that behavioral counseling interventions result in a small increase in sun protection behaviors in adults older than 24 years with fair skin types.

The USPSTF, however, found inadequate evidence on the benefits and harms of counseling adults about skin self-examination to prevent skin cancer. This conclusion was based on the lack of evidence that skin self-examination is beneficial.

Two editorials  – one led by Dr. June Robinson from the Department of Dermatology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago and the other led by Dr. David Buller, Director of Research at Klein Buendel –  were also published along with the Task Force recommendations.

The editorial by Robinson and Jablonski points out that while physicians are trusted sources of health information, people at risk for skin cancer or with a family history of skin cancer may also find family members to be useful networks for information on prevention and self-examination.

The editorial by Buller, Heckman, and Manne expresses disappointment in the Task Force not recommending skin self-examination and points out that some ongoing studies to determine effectiveness of skin self-examination may find that it is effective.

Both editorials describe the Task Force’s definition of risk as “fair skin types” as narrow. They believe that many other people are at risk for skin cancer and could benefit from sun protection education and counseling. Some groups mentioned in the editorials include people who sunburn but are not considered fair-skinned, people who use indoor tanning equipment, children and adolescents, Hispanics, and people who are physically active outdoors. According to the authors, it is important not to disenfranchise these groups within the diverse U.S. population.

A Randomized Study of Shade Sails and Passive Recreation in Public Parks in Two Hemispheres

A Randomized Study of Shade Sails and Passive Recreation in Public Parks in Two Hemispheres

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer1 but the primary risk factor for skin cancer, UV exposure, is the most avoidable.2 Purpose-built shade not only reduces UV exposure,3 it can also come with other benefits like provide protection without requiring planning4 and may even provide protection for individuals with negative attitudes towards sun safety who seek shade to keep cool.5

In a recent publication in American Journal of Public Health, KB’s Dr. David Buller, Mary Buller and collaborators in Australia, at the University of Melbourne (Dr. Dallas English) and Cancer Council Victoria, (Dr. Suzanne Dobbinson) conducted a stratified randomized study in Melbourne, Australia and Denver, Colorado where shade sails were built in 1 of 2 passive recreation areas (PRAs) in full sun in 144 parks (71 in Melbourne and 73 in Denver). The use of the PRAs with shade sails built as part of the study were compared with the nearby non-shaded PRAs for use by park visitors. The authors tested two hypotheses – the first being that the introduction of shade sails over PRAs would increase the use of these PRAs by visitors compared to unshaded PRAs – and the second being that the increase in use of shaded PRAs would be larger in Melbourne, Australia than Denver, Colorado due to stronger norms for sun safety in Australia than the United States.

Public parks enrolled in the study had to contain at least two unshaded PRAs that were in full sun at pretest, and one of the two PRAs had to contain a space where a shade sail could be constructed. Trained observers made observations at the PRAs for 30-minute periods on four weekend days during a 20-week period in the summer months for each city at pretest and posttest to determine the number of visitors during peak UV hours (11 am to 3 pm). Shade sails were designed to be attractive while also providing shade during peak UV times and the shade cloth selected reduced UV by at least 94%.

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KB to Co-Host International UV Conference May 1-4, 2018

KB to Co-Host International UV Conference May 1-4, 2018

Klein Buendel is a proud North American organizer and host of the 4th International Conference on UV and Skin Cancer Prevention being held May 1-4, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. The 2018 conference is being organized by a joint planning committee of skin cancer prevention experts in Canada and the United States from Ryerson University in Toronto, the Canadian Dermatology Association, and Klein Buendel.

The UV and Skin Cancer Prevention conferences provide an innovative scientific program that showcases the work of the international skin cancer prevention community. The previous conferences have been held in Copenhagen, Denmark (2011), Berlin, Germany (2013), and Melbourne, Australia (2015) and have attracted international experts in skin cancer prevention, UV radiation science, dermatology, allied behavioral and clinical disciplines and members of the environmental planning and design communities who are working in the field of UV and skin cancer prevention. The conferences have been organized by local planning committees dedicated to advancing skin cancer prevention.

The Toronto conference will feature multiple concurrent sessions and poster sessions addressing primary and secondary prevention, school settings, worksites, shade design, sun safety campaigns, indoor tanning trends, sunscreen, and more.

Special plenary sessions will address:

  • New Research Methods for Skin Cancer Prevention
  • Issues in Dissemination of Skin Cancer Prevention Interventions
  • Second Generation Audiences for Skin Cancer Prevention
  • Environmental Issues in Skin Cancer Prevention
  • Screening for Skin Cancer Prevention

Four additional workshops will be held on May 1st:

  • Sun Safety and Skin Health in Youth
  • Young Adulthood Physical Activity
  • Skin Smart Campus
  • Online, Mobile, and Social Media Interventions

To see the program-at-a-glance, speakers, and registration information, visit…

4th International Conference on UV and Skin Cancer Prevention


Expressing Empathy: Part 3

Expressing Empathy: Part 3

Tips for Showing Empathy: Strategies for Becoming More Empathic

Nonverbal Communication

  • Listen to what is not being said. Pay attention to the nonverbal cues being sent by you and the other person.
  • Face the person. Keep your body posture relaxed and open. Lean toward the person.
  • Maintain eye contact. Mimic their facial expressions –be careful that your expression is not blank or frowning.
  • Physical contact, such as a hug or touching the person’s arm, may be helpful.
  • Recognize what you are feeling, especially negative feelings.

Verbal Communication

What to Say:

  • If possible, talk in a place that is comfortable and will have minimal interruptions.
  • Allow the person to talk uninterrupted.
  • Ask open-ended questions. This lets the person know that you’re willing to listen. Example – How are you doing with this? Would it help to talk about this? Is there something troubling you? What are you feeling?
  • Use a pleasant tone of voice.
  • Statements you might say:
    • “You seem worried.”
    • “I see why you are concerned about this.”
    • “Tell me more about what is worrying you.”
    • “I will be here for you.”
    • “It sounds like you are feeling…(fill in the blank).”

What Not to Say:

  • Do not try to fix the problem, interpret or analyze what is happening, or argue.
  • Do not preach, lecture, judge, blame or criticize. Avoid saying “should” or “ought to.”
  • Do not minimize their fears by saying, “It will be fine” or “you’ll be OK” or “at least it isn’t…”

Communicating About Cancer Series Info

This research project was funded by a grant from the National Cancer Institute (CA144235; Dr. Wayne Beach, San Diego State University, Principal Investigator). Co-investigators included Dr. David Dozier from San Diego State University, and Mary Buller, Dr. Valerie Myers, and Dr. David Buller from Klein Buendel, Inc.

Expressing Empathy: Part 2

Expressing Empathy: Part 2

Empathy in Patient/Doctor Relationships

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.*

Carl Patterson was with his elderly stepfather when he died from acute lymphatic leukemia. Tom had been a laid-back, easy going man who made friends easily and preferred to have a glass of wine than worry about small details. Carl, on the other hand, was detail-oriented and had been looking after his stepfather’s affairs for years.

Tom wanted to donate his body to a local university for medical research. In most cases, if a body is not received promptly after death, research organizations will refuse the donation. Carl knew this. So he grew impatient when hours passed after his stepfather died and the doctor, who needed to process the paperwork to release Tom’s body, didn’t appear. Carl repeatedly questioned the nurses. The nurses repeatedly paged the doctor. When she arrived, the doctor told Carl, “I have more important things to do with the living than with the dead.” Carl was stunned. “He had just died,” he said. “Her bedside manner didn’t exist.”

Numerous studies have found that empathy is often missing in doctor-patient communication. Expressing empathy can be even more difficult in situations involving conflict, anger, sadness or fear. These feelings are common on a cancer journey.  When medical professionals show empathy, patients feel more satisfied with the relationship. They also have more trust in their doctor, are less anxious about their condition, and are more likely to follow the doctor’s recommendations. Doctors feel better about their work too. Empathy is a learnable skill being taught more frequently in medical schools to help improve patient-doctor communication.

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