Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Ike S. Okosun, PhD

Second Advisor

John A. Steward, MPH



Prioritizing Diseases, Disorders and Disabilities and the Relative Importance of Skin Cancer: A Public Health Faculty Survey


James Thomas Sandwich, MD

April 21, 2016

INTRODUCTION: Academic faculty in public health have diverse career interests and occupy positions of considerable influence. They play an important role in setting curriculum and training the future public health workforce. However, there is little published scholarly information regarding which public health diseases, disorders, and disabilities are most important to them. Skin cancer is a major public health problem that has been declared an epidemic.

AIM: The Aim of this study is to discover which public health disorders are of highest concern and to determine the relative priority of skin cancer to public health faculty.

METHODS: The primary design of the study was that of a non-experimental opinion based survey. Subjects were faculty members of national academic, public health programs. To obtain the broadest distribution, primary and secondary faculty as defined by the ASPPH were included. A 19 question survey document was administered electronically through Qualtrics. There were 15 questions on the importance of specific disorders and five questions on skin cancer. Responses were categorized ranked and compared.

RESULTS: Obesity ranked the highest among all concerns with cardiovascular disease and cancer also receiving high priority. Cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease led in secondary outcomes. Tertiary outcomes were nearly evenly split between cardiovascular disease, cancer, and mental health. Priorities varied by regions, age, gender and race. The majority placed skin cancer in the second quartile of importance and believed it to be appropriately ranked.

CONCLUSION: Public health faculty prioritize disorders similarly in spite of diverse interests with minor differences across regions and demographics. National Funding as a proxy for importance does not cleanly align with faculty priorities. Public health faculty express familiarity with skin cancer, however, do not generally considered it of highest priority compared to other disorders. Increased faculty emphasis on interventions that prevent skin cancer may improve awareness and reduce negative sequela.