Could Hairdressers Help Detect Scalp Melanomas?

December 22, 2017

Use of a brief educational video increased hairdressers’ knowledge of melanoma detection and improved their self-confidence to detect skin lesions.

Use of a brief educational video increased hairdressers’ knowledge of melanoma detection and improved their self-confidence to detect skin lesions, according to a study published in JAMA Dermatology.

“Hairdressers have the ability to monitor a large extent of the general public’s scalp and neck (S-N), highlighting their usefulness for the detection of S-N melanomas via population-based screening and dermatologic referral,” wrote Neda R. Black, MD, of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, and colleagues. “Findings from this study suggest that a brief educational video can be beneficial for educating hairdressers about melanoma risk and the ABCDE (Asymmetry, irregular Borders, >1 Color, >6 mm in Diameter, Elevation) criteria for atypical nevi and melanoma detection while also building on self-efficacy skills in skin lesion detection that might carry over to improved screening of those individuals at risk for melanoma.”

In a previous study, the researchers discovered room for improvement and a desire to learn more about melanoma detection among a group of 108 hairdressers from 45 hair salons. In this study, they developed and tested the efficacy of a video intervention designed to increase hairdresser knowledge of melanoma and self-confidence in skin lesion detection.

The single-group study included a pre-test and post-test intervention administered around a 5-minute online video. The questions were based on items from the American Cancer Society Facts and Figures report. The tests assessed changes in the scores of hairdressers’ self-confidence and knowledge about melanoma detection.

The study included 113 participants who completed the pre-test and 100 who completed the post-test. There were improvements in the knowledge of melanoma risk items. Specifically, there were significant gains for correct identification of ABCDE criteria for atypical nevi and melanoma from the pre-test to the post-test (59% vs 71%; P = .008). The proportion of participants reporting “very confident” self-efficacy more than doubled, from 19% on the pre-test to 41% on the post-test (P = .001).

According to the researchers, study limitations include the small sample size and limited external validity of the findings. Also, a majority of the hairdressers in the study reported some previous training about skin cancer.

“Based on our initial testing of an educational video intervention, training hairdressers in melanoma screening and referral seems to be a promising avenue for future research,” the researchers concluded.