Sun protection education for adolescents: a feasibility study of a wait-list controlled trial of an intervention involving a presentation, action planning, and SMS messages and using objective measurement of sun exposure.BMC Public Health. 2020 Jan 30; 20(1):131.BP
People increase their risk of melanoma unless they are protected from the harmful effects of sun exposure during childhood and adolescence. We aimed to assess the feasibility of a three-component sun protection intervention- presentation, action planning, and SMS messages - and trial parameters.
This feasibility wait-list trial was conducted in the United Kingdom in 2018. Students aged 13-15 years were eligible. Feasibility outcomes were collected for recruitment rates; data availability rates for objective measurements of melanin and erythema using a Mexameter and self-reported sunburn occurrences, severity and body location, tanning, sun protection behaviours and Skin Self-Examination (SSE) collected before (baseline) and after the school summer holidays (follow-up); intervention reach, adherence, perceived impact and acceptability. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics; qualitative data were analysed thematically.
Five out of eight schools expressing an interest in participating with four allocated to act as intervention and one control. Four parents/carers opted their child out of the study. Four hundred and eighty-seven out of 724 students on the school register consented to the study at baseline (67%). Three hundred and eighty-five were in intervention group schools. Objective skin measurements were available for 255 (66%) of the intervention group at baseline and 237 (61%) of the group at follow up. Melanin increased; erythema decreased. Complete self-report data were available for 247 (64%) students in the intervention group. The number of students on the school register who attended the presentation and given the booklet was 379 (98%) and gave their mobile phone number was 155 (40%). No intervention component was perceived as more impactful on sun protection behaviours. Adolescents did not see the relevance of sun protection in the UK or for their age group.
This is the first study to use a Mexameter to measure skin colour in adolescents. Erythema (visible redness) lasts no more than three days and its measurement before and after a six week summer holiday may not yield relevant or meaningful data. A major challenge is that adolescents do not see the relevance of sun protection and SSE.
International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number ISRCTN11141528. Date registered 0/2/03/2018; last edited 31/05/2018. Retrospectively registered.