What is known?
Text messaging is an effective way to reach large populations with health promotion support. This study aimed to establish the optimal text messaging intervention to achieve behaviour change in young adults at risk of skin cancer.
What is new?
A total of 277 adults from Queensland participated in a randomised controlled trial to test four different text messaging-based interventions and completed a follow-up questionnaire. The text messages included a combination of personalised and interactive content centred on sun safety. The text messages were delivered over the course of four weeks, in a strategic manner which allowed four different delivery methods to be compared to reveal their effectiveness in encouraging sun safe behaviours.
A composite measure of self-reported sun protection was generated, including behaviours such as wearing a shirt with sleeves, wearing sunglasses, wearing a hat, using sunscreen, staying in the shade, limiting time in the sun during midday hours, and wearing long pants. The average of this measure was significantly higher across all four text messaging interventions, with no difference between delivery methods.
Rates of reported sunburn decreased significantly over the period of the study for all four delivery methods. The method of sending more interactive texts around three times a week, asking questions with reinforcement and praise for correct answers, was most liked by participants.
What does this mean?
Regular text messaging interventions about sun protection, regardless of the specific content, result in significantly increased sun protection and decreased sunburn in young adults.
Contact: Peter Baade
Reference: Horsham C, Baade P, Kou K, O’Hara M, Sinclair C, Loescher LJ, Soyer HP, Janda M. Optimizing texting interventions for melanoma prevention and early detection: A Latin Square Crossover RCT. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2021. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2021.03.024.