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Open Access Study protocol

Study protocol: a randomised controlled trial of a theory-based online intervention to improve sun safety among Australian adults

Cathy M Cleary1, Katherine M White1*, Ross McD Young2, Anna L Hawkes34, Stuart Leske1, Louise C Starfelt1 and Kylie Wihardjo1

Author Affiliations

1 School of Psychology and Counselling, Queensland University of Technology, Victoria Park Road, Kelvin Grove, Brisbane 4059, Australia

2 Faculty of Health, Queensland University of Technology, Victoria Park Road, Kelvin Grove, Brisbane 4059, Australia

3 School of Public Health and Social Work, Queensland University of Technology, Victoria Park Road, Kelvin Grove, Brisbane 4059, Australia

4 School of Public Health, Tropical Medicine, and Rehabilitation Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville 4811, Australia

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BMC Cancer 2014, 14:162  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-162

Published: 7 March 2014

Abstract

Background

The effects of exposure to ultraviolet radiation are a significant concern in Australia which has one of the highest incidences of skin cancer in the world. Despite most skin cancers being preventable by encouraging consistent adoption of sun-protective behaviours, incidence rates are not decreasing. There is a dearth of research examining the factors involved in engaging in sun-protective behaviours. Further, online multi-behavioural theory-based interventions have yet to be explored fully as a medium for improving sun-protective behaviour in adults. This paper presents the study protocol of a randomised controlled trial of an online intervention based on the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) that aims to improve sun safety among Australian adults.

Methods/Design

Approximately 420 adults aged 18 and over and predominantly from Queensland, Australia, will be recruited and randomised to the intervention (n = 200), information only (n = 200) or the control group (n = 20). The intervention focuses on encouraging supportive attitudes and beliefs toward sun-protective behaviour, fostering perceptions of normative support for sun protection, and increasing perceptions of control/self-efficacy over sun protection. The intervention will be delivered online over a single session. Data will be collected immediately prior to the intervention (Time 1), immediately following the intervention (Time 1b), and one week (Time 2) and one month (Time 3) post-intervention. Primary outcomes are intentions to sun protect and sun-protective behaviour. Secondary outcomes are the participants’ attitudes toward sun protection, perceptions of normative support for sun protection (i.e. subjective norms, group norms, personal norms and image norms) and perceptions of control/self-efficacy toward sun protection.

Discussion

The study will contribute to an understanding of the effectiveness of a TPB-based online intervention to improve Australian adults’ sun-protective behaviour.

Trials registry

Australian and New Zealand Trials Registry number ACTRN12613000470796

Keywords:
Sun protection; Theory of planned behaviour; Online intervention; Sun-protective behaviour; Adult; Oncology; Skin cancer