This is for all those heading to a warmer places for a spring break. A study from Harvard Medical School has shown that standard mobile phone text messaging is an effective method to increase compliance with sunscreen lotion application.
From the American Academy of Dermatology:
Since few innovations exist that accurately measure adherence to products such as sunscreen and no reminder system is currently available to improve sunscreen adherence in the general population, the Center for Connected Health – a division of Partners Healthcare in Boston – developed a reminder service in which study subjects were sent cell phone text messages reminding them to apply their sunscreen.
This novel technology was evaluated in a randomized controlled trial in the fall of 2008 to test the effect of these reminders on the frequency of sunscreen application. Seventy patients ranging in age from 18 to 72 participated in the study and were asked to apply sunscreen daily for six weeks. Half of the patients were randomly selected to receive text messages via cellular phones and the other half did not receive reminders. Text message reminders were sent to participants each morning around 7 a.m., which stated the weather report and a reminder to apply sunscreen.
Dr. Kvedar [Joseph C. Kvedar, MD, FAAD, associate professor of dermatology at Harvard University Medical School] evaluated patients’ adherence to daily sunscreen usage with a novel electronic monitoring device, which was strapped onto the tube of sunscreen. When the cap of the sunscreen tube was removed, the device sent a text message to researchers that was then recorded as evidence of sunscreen use.
At the end of the study period, Dr. Kvedar concluded that the subjects receiving text messages had a significantly improved rate of sunscreen application as compared to the control subjects. Specifically, the 35 subjects who received daily text message reminders to apply sunscreen had a mean daily adherence rate of 56 percent compared to a mean daily adherence rate of only 30 percent by the 35 subjects who did not receive reminders.