Frontiers in Digital Health (2021-03-01)

Developing an Online Tool to Promote Safe Sun Behaviors With Young Teenagers as Co-researchers

  • Rebecca Nguyen,
  • Isabelle M. Clare,
  • Nisali Gamage,
  • Gail A. Alvares,
  • Lucinda J. Black,
  • Prue H. Hart,
  • Robyn M. Lucas,
  • Robyn M. Lucas,
  • Mark Strickland,
  • Mohinder Jaimangal,
  • James White,
  • Shelley Gorman

DOI
https://doi.org/10.3389/fdgth.2021.626606
Journal volume & issue
Vol. 3

Abstract

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Despite education about the risks of excessive sun exposure, teenagers in Australia are sun-seeking, with sunburn common in summer. Conversely, some regular (time-limited) exposure to sunlight (that avoids sunburn) is necessary for vitamin D and healthy bones and other molecules important for immune and metabolic health. New interventions are thus required to better support teenagers to make healthy and balanced decisions about their sun behaviors. This paper describes the development of a prototype online tool—a smartphone app—that aimed to foster safe sun practices in teenagers. We recruited young adolescents (aged 12–13 years, n = 24) as “co-researchers” to provide ongoing input into the nature and design of the online tool. This age group was selected, as it is a critical time when young people transition from primary education, where “SunSmart” behaviors are entrenched in Australian schools, to high school, where risky behaviors emerge. Through a series of interviews and workshops, we codesigned an Apple iOS smartphone app with the co-researchers, leading health promotion professionals, researchers, and app designers. The developed app, Sun Safe, contains educational content relevant to teenagers about safe sun behaviors, complemented by other features requested by co-researchers and stakeholders to help engage young people, including gamified quizzes to test their sun health knowledge, real-time weather data on the UV Index and temperature, a sunscreen application timer, and reminders to check the UV Index. The developed prototype app was rated well by co-researchers, suggesting it is suitable for further feasibility and efficacy testing as an intervention tool to improve knowledge and promote safe sun behaviors by young adolescents.

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