Internet Can Deliver Valuable Information To Melanoma Patients

Ashley K. Day, Ph.D., M. Psych (Hlth) Post-Doctoral Associate Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Interview with:
Ashley K. Day, Ph.D., M. Psych (Hlth)
Post-Doctoral Associate
Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Day: Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the US, and it is estimated that more than 9,000 Americans will die of melanoma this year. Melanoma patients have a 9-times greater risk for a diagnosis of another melanoma compared to the general population. Because of this, it is important that melanoma patients practice regular sun protection and skin self-examination behaviors. There is potential opportunity to use the Internet to deliver information and interventions to help melanoma patients engage in these behaviors. However, it is important to understand patients’ preferences. Our research explored factors associated with the receptivity of patients with melanoma to such Internet-delivered behavioral interventions.

We found that, in a sample of 176 melanoma patients, the vast majority (84.1%) had Internet access and had previously sought melanoma information online (77.7%). More than two-thirds of patients (68.4%) reported being at least moderately interested in participating in an Internet-based intervention to promote engagement in sun protection and skin self-examination behaviors. Receptivity to such an intervention was higher among patients who were younger, had greater knowledge of the ABCDE signs of melanoma (looking at the asymmetry, border irregularity, color, diameter, and evolution of the mole or affected area), and were more comfortable using the Internet.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Day: The Internet is a potentially valuable source of health information for individuals diagnosed with melanoma. However, it is important that patients seek information from reliable web sources. We recommend that clinicians refer patients to reputable source of online health information. While most patients in the current study were receptive to the idea of participating in an Internet-delivered behavioral intervention, this approach will not be appropriate for everyone. Clinicians should be aware of factors likely to influence patient preferences with regard to intervention delivery approaches.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Day: There is a need for future research to develop and systematically evaluate behavioral interventions delivered via the web and other approaches to promote sun protection and skin self-examination behaviors among melanoma patients and other high-risk groups.


Day AK, Stapleton JL, Manne SL, Tatum KL, Goydos JS, Coups EJ. Receptivity to Internet-Delivered Interventions to Promote Skin Self-examination and Sun Protection Behaviors in Patients With Melanoma. JAMA Dermatol. Published online October 14, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.2978.

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Ashley K. Day, Ph.D. (2015). Internet Can Deliver Valuable Information To Melanoma Patients 

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