A patient's sun-related behavior greatly influences the likelihood of that patient
developing melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Prior research shows current
education strategies on inducing preventative behaviors such as wearing sun-protection
clothing and wearing sunscreen are inadequate at effectively changing behavior when used in
isolation -- patients are aware of the dangers of not engaging in these preventative
measures but forgo them nonetheless.
We are investigating methods to positively influence sun protection behaviors among melanoma
survivors and their families. The first objective is to compare patient and familial sun
exposure and cancer screening activity before and after patients' diagnosis with primary
melanoma. The second objective is to note if hanging a "Melanoma Survivor" plaque in a
melanoma survivor's bathroom will significantly affect the survivor's and broader family's
sun exposure and cancer screening activity.
Our sample of patients consists of survivors of primary cutaneous melanoma less than 4.0 mm
in depth who come through the Dermatology Clinic at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and
voluntarily choose to participate in the study after being informed of the nature of the
research. These patients complete a confidential survey assessing a change in sun exposure
related activities immediately after their diagnosis. After they fill out the survey, we
will ask them if they could nominate a family member to whom we will explain the purpose of
our research and confidentially ask an additional set of questions to evaluate the broader
impact of a melanoma diagnosis. From our original sample, we will randomly choose a few
families who would display the survivor plaque in their primary bathroom. After six-twelve
months, during the patient's follow up visit, will ask again both groups of patients and
family members to fill out another survey to assess sun exposure related activity.
On the surveys, no names are recorded. Everything is anonymous.
- patient has melanoma diagnosis within past 10 years less than 4mm in depth