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Systematic and iterative development of a smartphone application to promote sun-protection amongst holidaymaker

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Angela Rodrigues, Professor Falko Sniehotta, Professor Mark Birch-MachinORCiD, Professor Vera Araujo-SoaresORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Background: Experience of sunburn and intermittent UV-exposure are risk factors for melanoma. Sunburn is a common experience during holidays, making tourism settings of particular interest for skin cancer prevention. Holidaymakers are a volatile population with varying locations which may make them difficult to reach. Given the widespread use of smartphones evidence suggested that this might be a novel, convenient, scalable and feasible way of reaching the target population.Objectives: The main objective of this study is to describe and appraise the process of systematically developing a smartphone intervention (mISkin app) to promote sun-protection during holidays.Methods: The iterative development process of the mISkin app was conducted over four sequential stages: (a) identify evidence on the most effective behavior change techniques (BCTs) used (active ingredients) as well as theoretical predictors and theories; (b) evidence-based intervention design; (c) co-design with users of the mISkin app prototype; and (d) refinement of the app. Each stage provided key findings that were subsequently used to inform the design of the mISkin app.Results:The sequential approach to development integrates different strands of evidence to inform the design of an evidence-based intervention. A systematic review on previously tested interventions to promote sun-protection provided cues and constraints for the design of this intervention. The development and design of the mISkin app also incorporated other sources of information, such as other literature reviews and experts’ consultations. The developed prototype of the mISkin app was evaluated by engaging potential holidaymakers in the refinement and further development of the mISkin app through usability (ease-of-use) and acceptability testing of an intervention prototype. All 17 participants were satisfied with the mISkin prototype and expressed willingness to use it. Feedback on the app was integrated in the optimization process of the mISkin app. Conclusions: The mISkin app was designed to promote holidaymakers sun-protection and was based on current evidence, experts’ knowledge and experience, and user’s involvement. Based on users’ feedback the app has been refined and a fully functional version is ready for a formal testing in a feasibility pilot study

Publication metadata

Author(s): Rodrigues R, Sniehotta F, Birch-Machin MA, Araujo-soares V

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Medical Internet Research

Year: 2017

Volume: 6

Issue: 6

Online publication date: 12/06/2017

Acceptance date: 02/05/2017

Date deposited: 03/05/2017

ISSN (print): 1439-4456

ISSN (electronic): 1438-8871

Publisher: JMIR Publications, Inc.


DOI: 10.2196/resprot.7172


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Funder referenceFunder name
MR/K02325X/1Medical Research Council (MRC)