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New Study Finds Text-Messaging Reminders Effective in Improving Adherence to Sunscreen Use
Date:3/5/2009

SAN FRANCISCO, March 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Despite dermatologists' continual efforts, a disconnect persists between the public's understanding of the harmful effects of excessive sun exposure and regular use of sunscreen as part of an overall sun-protection strategy to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer. But now, the same technology that keeps people connected 24/7 may help encourage them to apply sunscreen regularly via daily text messaging reminders.

Speaking today at the 67th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy), dermatologist Joseph C. Kvedar, MD, FAAD, associate professor of dermatology at Harvard University Medical School in Boston, presented findings of his study that showed text messaging reminders were effective in improving sunscreen usage.

"For most people, cell phones, e-mail and text messaging are an integral part of how they communicate with one another and an ideal channel for health care professionals to reach patients with important reminders on taking their daily medications or even applying sunscreen," said Dr. Kvedar. "Our study was designed to determine if, in fact, daily text-messaging reminders encouraging people to apply sunscreen resulted in increased sunscreen usage."

Since few innovations exist that accurately measure adherence to products such as sunscreen and no reminder system is currently available to improve sunscreen adherence in the general population, the Center for Connected Health - a division of Partners Healthcare in Boston - developed a reminder service in which study subjects were sent cell phone text messages reminding them to apply their sunscreen.

This novel technology was evaluated in a randomized controlled trial in the fall of 2008 to test the effect of these reminders on the frequency of sunscreen application. Seventy patients ranging in age from 18 to 72 participated in the study and
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SOURCE American Academy of Dermatology
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