August 28, 2012
1 min read

Interactive education, texts increased likelihood of skin self-evaluations

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Computer-assisted education, plus hands-on learning and telecommunications reminders, increased the likelihood of patients performing skin self-evaluations and their confidence in being able to identify melanoma, according to study results.

Researchers studied 210 participants from University Hospitals Case Medical Center outpatient dermatology clinics in Cleveland (mean age, 53 years; 61.4% women). Data were collected at baseline and 3 months. An intervention group (n=112) participated in a computer-assisted, interactive learning tutorial on skin self-evaluations (SSE), malignant melanoma (MM) risk and symptoms and preventive measures. Those patients also participated in a hands-on SSE tutorial and received monthly reminders to perform SSEs (email, letters, telephone calls or text messages) and a melanoma detection brochure. Controls (n=98) only received the brochure. One hundred thirty-two adults completed the study with no significant difference in response between groups.

At follow-up, 78.9% of the intervention group reported performing SSEs compared with 60.7% of controls (P≤.05), with the intervention group 2.36 times more likely to perform SSEs at the end of 3 months (P≤.05). Intervention group participants who received text reminders had the largest SSE performance improvement (31.3% at baseline, 76.9% at 3 months). Intervention participants also were more likely to report feeling “very confident” or “somewhat confident” in their ability to identify melanoma during SSE after 3 months (OR=2.73; 95% CI, 1.13-6.56).

Limitations included that neither researchers nor participants were masked in the study, researchers said, and that measured variables relied on self-reported behavior.

“Further research could be aimed at determining the efficacy of other combinations of multimodal interventions that can modify patient behavior,” they concluded. “Dermatologists may use these findings to implement multiple modalities for teaching and reminding patients to perform SSE to increase patient autonomy and ultimately reduce the morbidity and mortality of MM.”