In the Journals

Appearance-based video effectively promoted sunscreen use to students

An appearance-based educational video was more effective than a health-based video in promoting sunscreen use to high school viewers, according to recent study results.

April W. Armstrong, MD, MPH, of the department of dermatology, University of Colorado at Denver, and a colleague studied 50 high school students (mean age, 17.2 years) in a randomized control trial between February and March 2012. Twenty-five students (76% females) viewed an appearance-based video on ultraviolet-induced premature aging, while the others (84% female) viewed a health-based video on UV exposure and skin cancer risk. Both videos were approximately 5 minutes long and viewed in a group setting. Researchers asked the students questions about sunscreen application use at baseline and at 6-week follow-up.

April W. Armstrong, MD, MPH 

April W. Armstrong

Sunscreen use increased slightly (0.9 ± 1.9 days/week; P=.096) in the students who viewed the health-based video compared with a larger increase (2.8 ± 2.2 days/week; P<.001) among students who watched the appearance-based video. Sunscreen was applied at a greater frequency in the appearance-based cohort (2.2 ± 1.4) compared with the health-based students (0.2 ± 0.6; P<.001). Both groups had significantly improved sunscreen knowledge scores, and at 6 weeks the difference in improvements was nearly equal.

The study was limited in that it focused on adolescents, and it might not be generalizable to the general population, the researchers reported.

The study “provides evidence that appearance-based messaging may be superior to traditional health-based messages in promoting sun-protection behaviors,” the researchers concluded. “Our study also demonstrates that appearance-based education can be effectively delivered by video. In contrast to appearance-based interventions using resource-intensive methods, such as UV photography, video education can be easily and widely disseminated to influence behavior.”

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.