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An Online Intervention to Reduce Skin Cancer in Young Adults

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey leads research study
December 17, 2018

New Brunswick, N.J. – Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, and it can be deadly. Led by investigators at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, colleagues from across the country are conducting a research study to evaluate the reach and effectiveness of an online program targeted at skin cancer prevention in young adults. The goal is to improve skin cancer protection behaviors among those in this age group who are at moderate to high risk of developing skin cancer. Investigators aim to accomplish this by refining an existing website in order to help young adults reduce this risk. The new-and-improved website can be accessed at www.UV4me.org.

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," notes Dr. Heckman, who is also an associate professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. "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."  Heckman’s previous study results were published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 2016.  

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 study is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. For information on how to take part, individuals can visit www.UV4me.org.  The study team can be reached at contactUV4me@gmail.com  or 1-833-258-8463.

About Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

As New Jersey’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Rutgers Cancer Institute, along with its partner RWJBarnabas Health, offers the most advanced cancer treatment options including bone marrow transplantation, proton therapy and CAR-T cell therapy.  Along with clinical trials and novel therapeutics such as precision medicine and immunotherapy – many of which are not widely available – patients have access to these cutting-edge therapies at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New Brunswick, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey at University Hospital in Newark, as well as through RWJBarnabas Health facilities.

Along with world-class treatment, which is often fueled by on-site research conducted in Rutgers Cancer Institute laboratories, patients and their families also can seek cancer preventative services and education resources throughout the Rutgers Cancer Institute and RWJBarnabas Health footprint statewide. To make a tax-deductible gift to support the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, call 848-932-8013 or visit www.cinj.org/giving.

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