FINDING ANSWERS: Researcher Dr Elke Hacker is looking for volunteers to participate in a study to discover if current 30-plus sunscreens offer adequate protection or whether a new ’super sunscreen’ is needed.
FINDING ANSWERS: Researcher Dr Elke Hacker is looking for volunteers to participate in a study to discover if current 30-plus sunscreens offer adequate protection or whether a new ’super sunscreen’ is needed. Contributed

Young Coast residents with smart phones to help find answers

YOUNG Fraser Coast residents can help dial up some answers about whether or not mobile phones and ultraviolet radiation detecting devices save us from potentially deadly melanomas.

Cancer Council Queensland figures show 165 melanomas are diagnosed in the Wide Bay Burnett region every year.

QUT researcher Dr Elke Hacker is researching whether or not devices that detect ultraviolet radiation and mobile phone apps promoting sun smart behaviour can prevent skin cancer.

She needs young people with smartphones to join her study.

Dr Hacker said experts believed there would be 13,000 new cases of melanoma in Australia by 2020.

She said most young Aussies were aware of the risks but many still got sunburnt.

"Since the 1980s, Australia has led the world in the successful implementation of sun protection messages and promotional campaigns like Slip Slop Slap and Sun-Smart," the postdoctoral research fellow with QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation said.

"These programs have greatly raised public awareness and improved preventative behaviours, leading to a reduction in skin cancer incidents in younger generations.

Dr Hacker said it was not clear whether the UV radiation detecting devices and mobile phone apps on the market did help reduce melanoma risk.

"We don't really know if these products are that precise, whether they provide adequate feedback to consumers and whether people adjust their behaviour accordingly," she said.

"To build the evidence for using UVR feedback devices within public health education campaigns, this study will evaluate one mobile phone app and one personal UVR dosimeter device, and the impact, if any, these have on people's UVR protection and exposure behaviours."

Dr Hacker needs young people with iPhone models 4, 5 or 6 or Android phones to take part in her research.

She said it was vital participants had not been diagnosed with melanoma and that they had not used the SunSmart app regularly.

"They might be asked to wear a small device that measures UVR or to download and use the SunSmart phone application," Dr Hacker said.

"The tests will run over several weeks and participants will then complete a questionnaire at one week and three months following the intervention."

Details: skntec@qut.edu.au.

- APN NEWSDESK



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