Technology improves education of skin cancer prevention in teens

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Educating young adults about the dangers of sun exposure and getting them to adopt lower their skin cancer risk can prove to be a challenge.

Researchers employed a specially designed intervention in an attempt to bolster healthier habits.

The research team, led by Yvonnes Chen, journalism professor, and conducted and co-authored by Donatus Ohanehi and Kerry Redican from Virginia Tech, focused on youths of age 14 through 16 in an agricultural education class.

Southwest Virginia was an ideal location for the test, due to the lengthy sun exposure often experienced by farm youths, and sunburn rates in the area are among the highest in the United States.

The crafted intervention consisted of several layers, incorporating a wristwatch-like device worn on the wrist coupled with multimedia presentations that included skin cancer education, testimonials from individuals with skin cancer (including a 16-year-old patient with skin cancer).

One of the lessons, entitled "Dear 16 Year Old Me" featured testimonials by skin cancer patients or those that had lost loved ones to the disease offering advice to this younger selves. Other lessons focused on media awareness and the glamorization of celebrities with bronzed skin tones.

The wristwatch device, called a Sunwatch, monitored levels of sun exposure and recommended various means of sun protection.

The adolescents responded well to the program, preferring the wristwatch devices over specialized diaries employed in previous studies. The gadgets, coupled with multimedia lesson delivery, was considered an effective means of imparting skin cancer information.

The study authors acknowledged room for improvement however, as the novelty associated with the wristwatch devices seemed to wane after a time and and the young adults noted that the SunWatches were somewhat cumbersome to wear.

Nanotechnology could help with prostate cancer treatment options
Educating young adults about the dangers of sun exposure and getting them to adopt lower their skin cancer risk can be a challenge.
A University of Kansas professor has co-authored a study that shows technology and carefully crafting the message could be the keys to getting adolescents to take skin cancer and sun exposure protection seriously.
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