Researchers out of Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and colleagues from across the country are conducting a study to evaluate the reach and effectiveness of an online program targeted at skin cancer prevention in young adults. 

Investigators are refining an existing website to help young adults reduce this risk. The new-and-improved website can be accessed at www.UV4me.org.

Some 1,500 young adults will take part in the study. Participants will complete several online questionnaires and view online educational material about skin protection, ultraviolet (UV) rays, and skin cancer over the course of a year. Eligible participants will receive gift cards upon completion of the surveys.  Eligible participants will be assigned randomly (by chance) into three groups.  One group will view the original UV4me website. Another group will view an enhanced UV4me website that includes additional interactive features such as goal tracking and feedback. The third group will view skin cancer prevention information in the form of an online pamphlet.

The original website and program were developed by Carolyn J. Heckman, PhD, who is a researcher in the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at Rutgers Cancer Institute, and her team.

"Our work shows that skin cancer risk behaviors, including sunburns, indoor tanning, and lack of protection peak at age 25. Thus, young adulthood is an important window for skin cancer risk reduction interventions," says Dr. Heckman, who is also an associate professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, in a news release. "Research indicates young adults tend to be resistant to public health recommendations on disease prevention due to other perceived priorities. They may also be influenced by peers to engage in risk-taking behavior. With that, it is important to examine interventions that could have positive outcomes for this population. We’ve been able to develop a program that’s effective in increasing skin cancer prevention behaviors that participants find interesting and helpful. In our current study, we are evaluating an enhanced version in a broader sample of young adults." 

Dr. Heckman’s previous study results were published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 2016.  

The study is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. For information on how to take part, individuals can visit www.UV4me.org