Background: Results from a single case-control study suggest that skin self-examination (SSE) has the potential to reduce mortality from melanoma by 63%. Despite these encouraging results, SSE rates are low. Few prospective studies of interventions to increase SSE in high-risk cohorts have been performed. The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of a brief nurse-delivered intervention using digital photographs on patients' adherence to performing SSE. DESIGN SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Patients at high risk for melanoma skin cancer (five or more dysplastic nevi) (N=100) were recruited from the outpatient Pigmented Lesion Clinic at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. All participants had baseline whole-body digital photography as part of their clinical evaluation.
Intervention: Patients were randomized: Group A (n =49) received a teaching intervention (physician and nurse education module) with a photo book (personal whole-body photographs compiled in the form of a booklet, with nurse instruction on how to use the photographs); and Group B (n =51) received the teaching intervention only without a photo book. MAIN OUTCOMES/MEASURES: Self-administered questionnaires were provided at three intervals: baseline, post-teaching intervention, and at the 4-month post-baseline visit. To assess adherence with SSE, patients were asked, "How many times in the past 4 months did you (or someone else) usually, thoroughly examine your skin?"
Results: In Group A (teaching intervention with photo book), 10.2% of the patients at baseline reported skin examination three or more times during the past 4 months, while 61.2% reported skin examination three or more times at the 4-month follow-up (p =0.039 for paired comparison). In Group B (teaching intervention only), nearly 20% of the patients at baseline reported skin examination three or more times during the past 4 months, while 37% reported skin examination three or more times at the 4-month follow-up (p =0.63). The increase in reported skin examination was compared between the two groups (>51% v >17.6%, p =0.001).
Conclusions: The results suggest that a brief nurse-delivered intervention is effective at increasing patient adherence with SSE. Utilizing digital photographs as an adjunct to screening appeared to increase patient adherence to performing SSE.