Text Messages Shown to Help Improve Sunscreen Use

Study finds a daily reminder prompts people to apply sunscreen to protect their skin
By Jane Parry
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Mobile phone text messages may be used to help people remember to apply sunscreen, and to narrow the gap between patients' understanding of the importance of using sunscreen and actual daily practice, according to a study in the November issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

April W. Armstrong, M.D., of the University of California-Davis Health System in Sacramento, and colleagues conducted a study of 70 volunteers, half of whom were randomized to receive a daily text message for six weeks comprising a prompt to apply sunscreen and a daily local weather update. The other half did not receive text messaging reminders.

The researchers found that the mean daily sunscreen application adherence rate among the control group was 30.0 percent, compared to 56.1 percent for the intervention group. After study completion, 24 (69 percent) of the intervention group said they would continue to use the text message reminders, while 31 (89 percent) said they would recommend the text message reminder system to other people.

"The study by Armstrong et al suggests that new technologies may provide additional means by which we can help our patients use recommended treatments better," write the authors of an accompany editorial.

One author of the accompanying editorial reported financial and consulting relationships with pharmaceutical companies.

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