If you want to teach teens to use sunscreen, then show them a video about how it protects them from getting wrinkles, not on how it protects them from getting skin cancer.
This was the result of a recent study reported in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
"Vanity is more of a driving force to use sunscreen, as opposed to the fear factor of developing skin cancer," the study's lead author, William Tuong a fourth-year medical student at the University of California, Davis told Reuters Health.
The study evaluated the responses of 50 students in 11th grade from Sacramento, California. Students were randomly selected to see one of two five-minute educational videos urging them to wear sunscreen.
One video attempts to persuade them to use sunscreen by suggesting that it helped prevent them from getting wrinkled skin like their grandparents. The young woman in the video stated, "Have you seen what the sun can do to a grape? It gets shriveled and wrinkled. Raisins are not cute."
She went on to say, "The sun causes wrinkles, dark spots, uneven skin tones, sagging skin and rough, leathery skin. These are all the things that will make you look older and definitely less sexy."
This is the link to the aging skin video.
The other video discusses how sunscreen protects people against getting skin cancer. The tone is more like a biology lesson as the young woman describes how skin cancer can harm you.
This is the link to the aging health video.
The researchers assessed how often the students used sunscreen before watching the videos and then again six weeks later.
The results were pretty significant. Students who watched the aging skin video started out with sunscreen use on average of .6 times a week. Afterwards, their use increased to 2.8 times a week.
The health video change of sunscreen use was not so significant. Those students started with a .7 times a week of use and rose to .9 times a week. Only a .2 times a week increase.
Previous research has shown that while teens do increase their knowledge about sunscreen use and importance after participating in educational programs, their compliance to sunscreen use typically does not increase.
The researchers think that adolescents do not practice preventive health behavior because they tend to think those risks will not appear in their lives.
This study demonstrates that a visual approach using a video that discusses appearance may be a better method to reach adolescents.
"With younger individuals, messages that resonate with them are messages that speak to them now," Tuong said to Reuters Health. "Appearance-based messaging resonates with them because it's more about short-term risk versus long-term risk.
Tuong went on to say that a video like the one used in the study could be an effective tool if it's played in waiting rooms or anywhere else that students congregate.
Video on skin aging inspires teen sunscreen use. Reuters.com. Web Mar. 16, 2014.
William Tuong, April W. Armstrong. Effect of appearance-based education compared with health-based education on sunscreen use and knowledge: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.jaad.2013.12.007
Ah, Vanity: Wrinkle videos trump cancer vids in getting teens to bust out the sunscreen. c/net news.com . Web Mar. 16, 2014.
Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s healthcare and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele are at www.helium.com/users/487540/show_articles
Edited by Jody Smith