For a study, researchers assessed the effectiveness of a mobile application (app) in patients who were already utilizing whole-body photography (TBP) to boost skin self-examination (SSE) rates and to pilot the use of examination reminders and accountability partners. To assign interventions in a randomized controlled experiment, a computer-generated randomization table was used. Sixty-nine patients aged 18 and above who owned an iPhone/iPad and had previously seen TBP photos, were recruited. A mobile app including digital TBP photographs for all participants, as well as either (1) the mobile app alone, (2) skin inspection reminders, (3) an accountability partner, or (4) reminders and an accountability partner. Changes in SSE rates were measured by enrollment and end-of-study questionnaires 6 months later.
Eighty-one patients provided informed permission; however, 12 patients were unable to complete trial enrollment procedures due to device incompatibility, leaving 69 patients to be randomized and evaluated [mean age 54.3, standard deviation (SD)- 13.9]. SSE rates increased considerably from 58% at baseline to 83% at 6 months (odds ratio 2.64, 95%CI 1.20–4.09), with no difference between groups. The group that received just examination reminders had the highest overall satisfaction (94%), whereas the group that received only accountability partners had the lowest (71% ).
A smartphone app, either alone or in conjunction with reminders and/or accountability partners, has been shown to be a beneficial tool for increasing SSE rates. Skin inspection reminders might assist a subgroup of patients to have a better overall experience.