Irish Melanoma Forum
Dr Emma Porter, dermatology registrar at University Hospital Limerick (UHL), was awarded the poster Clinical Research Prize at the 10th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Irish Melanoma Forum held in University College Dublin, in May 2022. The poster presented preliminary findings from a collaborative research initiative examining the impact of a visual sun protection campaign on sun-related attitudes and behaviours of healthcare workers.
Dr Sinead Field, Ms Evelyn Power and Dr Emma Porter
Dermatology Dept. UHL.
SunSmart video series: re-imagining traditional health promotion campaigns
During summer 2021, the Irish Skin Foundation, Ms Evelyn Power, Clinical Nurse Specialist in skin cancer and Dr Sinead Field, Consultant Dermatologist, UHL, in association with the Health Service Executive’s National Cancer Control Programme, University of Limerick Hospital Group (ULHG), and the Healthy Ireland SunSmart campaign, launched a series of five video animations, to encourage people to build SunSmart behaviours into their everyday routine, especially from April – September when the intensity of sunburn producing ultraviolet radiation is greatest.
The videos played on visual display units throughout ULHG hospitals and hospital social media channels throughout the summer, as part of a research initiative to evaluate the effectiveness of these assets in raising awareness of sun protective behaviours amongst staff.
Dr Sinead Field says of the launch of the video animation series, “Traditional health promotion campaigns have had to be reimagined in light of COVID-19 public health restrictions. Our aim in developing these animations was to bring the SunSmart messaging to life by creating a novel skin cancer awareness campaign in response to these changed circumstances and explore how digital health promotion initiatives can support all of us in adopting healthy sun protective behaviours.”
The study was open to all staff of ULHG. Preliminary findings revealed that 64% of participants reported the campaign improved how they protect their skin. 79% reported raised awareness of skin cancer, and 65% said it influenced them to discuss sun protection with others.
Dr Sinead Field, Mr David McMahon and Ms Michelle Dolan,
Irish Melanoma Forum, UCD, May 2022
Skin cancer prevention: looking to the future
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Ireland with around 13,000 cases diagnosed annually. This figure represents a steep increase compared to just 10 years ago and is projected to more than double again by 2045. However, the majority of skin cancers could be prevented; ultraviolet radiation exposure (emitted naturally in sunlight or from artificial sources e.g. sunbeds) is the main risk factor.
Cancer prevention offers the most cost effective, long term approach to cancer control and remains a cornerstone of the National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026. Consequently, public health efforts including Ireland’s first National Skin Cancer Prevention Plan 2019-2022, are directed towards encouraging those at risk to adopt sun-safe practices.
In terms of promoting the SunSmart message, particularly given the increased skin cancer incidence projections for Ireland to 2045, these study findings lend support for the potential to leverage digital health promotion initiatives into the future.