Open Access Open Badges Research article

Feasibility of a GP delivered skin cancer prevention intervention in Australia

Kylie Vuong13*, Lyndal Trevena1, Billie Bonevski2 and Bruce K Armstrong13

Author Affiliations

1 Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

2 School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, New South Wales, Australia

3 Cancer Epidemiology and Services Research, Sydney School of Public Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia

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BMC Family Practice 2014, 15:137  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-15-137

Published: 28 July 2014



Despite years of public education, sun-related behaviours are difficult to change and a recent survey showed low levels of sun protection. In this study we evaluated the feasibility and acceptability of an opportunistic skin cancer prevention intervention in general practice.


We used a controlled pre-and-post intervention design. Participants (n = 100) were recruited sequentially from patients attending two general practices in Sydney, Australia, from November to December 2010. Participants in the intervention practice (n = 50) received general practitioner delivered sun protection advice after completing a skin cancer risk assessment tool, and a sun protection pamphlet, in addition to routine care, at a single attendance. The skin cancer risk assessment tool provided three levels of risk. The general practitioner (GP) reinforced the level of risk and discussed sun protection. Participants in the control practice (n = 50) received routine care. We measured feasibility by patients’ and GPs’ participation in the intervention and time taken, and acceptability by intervention participants and GPs ratings of the intervention. We measured reported sun-related knowledge, attitudes and behaviour between the two groups at 1 and 13 months.


The intervention was found to be feasible within existing primary care team arrangements. Participation at baseline was 81% (108/134), and repeated participation was 88% (88/100) at 1 month and 70% (70/100) at 13 months. Participants and practitioners found the intervention acceptable. At 1 month, sun-related knowledge had increased in both patient groups, with a greater increase in the intervention group (adjusted mean difference 0.48, p = 0.034). There were no differences between groups in sun-related knowledge, attitudes and behaviour at 13 months.


A brief opportunistic skin cancer prevention intervention in general practice is feasible and acceptable. Further research in this setting with a more intensive intervention would be justified.

Feasibility studies; Skin neoplasms; Preventive medicine; General practice; Health behaviour