Keeping a daily record of sun-exposure behavior is the latest
way for people to find out what they are doing wrong.
"There is precedent for this approach from other health behavior
research," Karen Glanz, phd, mph, and her colleagues at the
Cancer Research Center, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, wrote
in The 1996 Skin Cancer Foundation Journal. Food diaries have
been used successfully to help dieters keep track of what and
how much they eat.
A pilot study, supported by a grant from The Skin Cancer Foundation,
was instituted in Hawaii, where basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas
are extremely common. Since about 90% of skin cancers could be
prevented by sun-protective practices, self-monitoring was seen
as an effective way of making people aware of their sun exposure.
Subjects were recruited from among the general public and dermatology
patients. Each participant was asked to fill out both a questionnaire
and a diary. At the end of the study, the researchers drew the
- The diary provided a more precise measurement of individuals'
sun-exposure behavior than did responses to questionnaires.
- Weekends account for the great majority of time spent outdoors;
therefore, a four-day diary, including Saturday and Sunday, was
sufficient to reveal sun habits.
- Alterations in sun exposure and/or protective habits brought
about by participation in this study included avoiding the sun
during peak hours, seeking shade, wearing sun-protective clothing,
including broad-brimmed hats and sunglasses, and applying a sunscreen
with a sun-protection factor (SPF) of 15 or greater.
Dr. Glanz' co-authors are Rommel Silverio, ma, and Anna Farmer,
rd, both of the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii.