Study: App an effective tool to record sun exposure

April 27, 2018

A smartphone app is an accessible tool that reliably measures the amount of exposure to the sun’s skin-damaging ultra-violet radiation, a QUT study has found.

Research fellow Dr. Elke Hacker from QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation developed an app to test its effectiveness as a sun exposure measuring tool to promote sun-smart behavior.

Dr. Hacker said the finding suggests a smartphone app is a good platform for determining sun exposure, and thanks to accessibility and low cost, it could be an effective way to assess skin cancer prevention programs, particularly in younger age groups.

The importance of skin cancer prevention for young people is reflected in the latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report Cancer in adolescents and young adults in Australia. It shows that in 2010-2014, the skin cancer melanoma was the most commonly diagnosed cancer among young Australians aged 15 to 24, accounting for 15 per cent of all cancers diagnosed.

Dr. Hacker said physical activity data was collected in the study to evaluate whether focusing on sun avoidance may result in unhealthy reductions in physical activity.

She said study participants under-reported their low-intensity physical activity compared to what was captured by the accelerometer measuring devices they wore. This could be because the devices detected both incidental and purposeful physical activity, yet people didn’t consider things like being out and about walking as activity, or they didn’t remember to record it.

Dr. Hacker is conducting a number of other studies testing innovative technologies designed to keep people sun safe and avoid sunburn, including an app that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to provide personalized advice relevant to a person’s skin type, the weather, environment, UV index, and when to reapply sunscreen.

Medical Xpress has the full story

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