Although military veterans are at increased risk for skin cancer, little is known about the extent to which they have been screened for skin cancer. The study objective was to examine the prevalence and correlates of physician skin cancer screening among U.S. military veterans.


Data were drawn from the National Health Interview Survey. The study sample consisted of 2,826 individuals who reported being military veterans. Receipt of a physician skin examination was measured using a single question that asked participants whether they had ever had all of their skin from head to toe checked for cancer by a dermatologist or some other kind of doctor.


Less than a third (30.88%) of participants reported ever having a physician skin examination. Factors positively associated with receipt of a physician skin examination in a multivariable logistic regression analysis included: older age, greater educational level, non-Hispanic white race/ethnicity, having TRICARE (military) health insurance, greater skin sensitivity to the sun, and engagement in more sun protection behaviors.


The majority of military veterans have never been screened for skin cancer by a physician. Screening rates were higher among individuals with one or more skin cancer risk factors. Future research is warranted to test targeted skin cancer screening interventions for this at risk and understudied population.

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Published in PLOS ONE, v. 16, issue 5, e0251785.

© 2021 Coups et al.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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This research was supported in part by the National Cancer Institute: P30CA072720.

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All data files are available from the CDC NHIS 2015 database: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/nhis_2015_data_release.htm.

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