Sad but true, sometimes fear is the greatest motivator. Turns out that fear of looking old motivates teens to apply sunscreen much more than the possibility of developing skin cancer.
A University of Colorado study, published in the February issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, found that educating teens about the aging and appearance-related effects of sun exposure is more effective than showing them the relationship between UV exposure and skin cancer when it comes to getting them to use sunscreen.
Fifty students from a Northern California high school were divided into two groups and shown one of the following videos:
- A health-based video that “discussed the growing incidence of melanoma among young people and the link between skin cancer and UV radiation.”
- An appearance-based video that “discussed the contribution of UV light to premature cutaneous aging and how sunscreen use could help delay signs of skin aging.”
“We sought to compare the effectiveness of appearance-based video education with that of health-based video education in improving sunscreen use and knowledge,” stated the researchers. They were inspired by previous studies showing that appearance-based education was successful in getting teens to apply sunscreen, but costly. Videos are much more cost effective.
The results are encouraging. “Appearance-based video education appears to be effective in promoting sunscreen use and knowledge in adolescents,” the researchers concluded.
Knowledge about the risks of sun exposure increased in both groups, but the appearance-based group demonstrated a statistically significant increase in sunscreen use.