Skin cancer is the most common malignancy in the U.S. Its incidence and mortality from skin cancer are on the rise. Individuals can decrease their risk of skin cancer by engaging in protective behaviors such as limiting intentional and unintentional UV exposure, and wearing broad-spectrum sunscreens and protective clothing.
Despite knowing the risks and receiving dermatological care, many patients with and without a history of skin cancer frequently forget to use UV protection or fail to use it in an optimal manner to reduce their UV risk. To address these concerns, we developed a brief ABC intervention (Addressing Behavior Change) method.
The ABC intervention is designed to be delivered by dermatologists in the context of a routine office visit involving a skin examination. Our previous work has shown that dermatologists are highly motivated to deliver the intervention, quickly learn the requisite skills, deliver the intervention with fidelity, and retained knowledge, motivation, and skills over a 6-month period.
In this study, we examined the efficacy of the ABC intervention on patients’ motivations and behaviors, utilizing a prospective longitudinal design. Approximately 150 patients were recruited to the study. One-half were exposed to the ABC intervention and the other half are being exposed to treatment as usual (controls). Participants completed surveys about their UV risk and protective behaviors at baseline (pre-intervention or treatment as usual) and at 1- and 3-month follow-ups.
Our goal was to influence the ability of dermatologists to influence patients’ behavior using a novel and brief behavioral intervention in the context of naturally occurring patient interactions.