Sun Protection With UVR Alerts From Wearable Device

Researchers evaluated whether a wearable device that measured ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure could improve sun protection behaviors and reduce sunburns in skin cancer survivors, aiming to manage this population’s increased risk for developing a second primary cutaneous melanoma.

However, the study’s lead author, Rachel Isaksson Vogel, reported that patients who received exposure notifications and sunscreen prompts from the device did not show different sun behaviors, UVR exposure, or sunburns  compared with controls at the end of the trial. Findings from the study was published in PLoS One.

UVR-Tracking Device Did Not Improve Sun Exposure

The randomized controlled trial implemented a commercially available wrist device (Shade 2) that measures UVR exposure. Researchers enrolled a total of 386 patients with an average age of 56 years who were predominantly female and 5 or more years past their first melanoma diagnosis.

The intervention group (n=182) received exposure alerts via mobile phone app notifications with prompts to use sunscreen. The control group (n=186) had a seperate application that did not provide exposure notifications. Both groups wore the device for 12 weeks and self-reported sun behaviors before, during, and after the study. The primary end point was a composite of sun protection behaviors at week 12.

According to the investigators, 93% of participants completed the study, though 40% reported device issues. Notably, the authors observed no meaningful differences in self-reported sun protection behaviors at week 12, with a composite score of 2.9±0.5 in the intervention group compared with 3.0±0.5 in the control group (P=.06).

In addition, rates of any sunburn during the intervention period (interventions, 12.7% vs controls, 14.4%; P=.75) and median average daily objective UVR exposures (intervention, 83 J/mvs control, 87 J/m2; P=.43) were not meaningfully different between the groups.

Ultimately, Vogel and colleagues summarized that a UVR-sensing wearable device with exposure alerts did not improve sun protection behaviors in melanoma survivors, and suggested that “the technology needs refinement before further attempts to assess the effectiveness of self-monitoring UVR exposure.”

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