Determinants of skin self-examination (SSE) in men aged 50 years or older

Auster, Josephine Frances (2011) Determinants of skin self-examination (SSE) in men aged 50 years or older. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Background: Queensland men aged 50 years and older are at high risk for melanoma. Early detection via skin self examination (SSE) (particularly whole-body SSE) followed by presentation to a doctor with suspicious lesions, may decrease morbidity and mortality from melanoma. Prevalence of whole-body SSE (wbSSE) is lower in Queensland older men compared to other population subgroups. With the exception of the present study no previous research has investigated the determinants of wbSSE in older men, or interventions to increase the behaviour in this population. Furthermore, although past SSE intervention studies for other populations have cited health behaviour models in the development of interventions, no study has tested these models in full.

The Skin Awareness Study: A recent randomised trial, called the Skin Awareness Study, tested the impact of a video-delivered intervention compared to written materials alone on wbSSE in men aged 50 years or older (n=930). Men were recruited from the general population and interviewed over the telephone at baseline and 13 months. The proportion of men who reported wbSSE rose from 10% to 31% in the control group, and from 11% to 36% in the intervention group. Current research: The current research was a secondary analysis of data collected for the Skin Awareness Study. The objectives were as follows:

• To describe how men who did not take up any SSE during the study period differed from those who did take up examining their skin. • To determine whether the intervention program was successful in affecting the constructs of the Health Belief Model it was aimed at (self-efficacy, perceived threat, and outcome expectations); and whether this in turn influenced wbSSE. • To determine whether the Health Action Process Approach (HAPA) was a better predictor of wbSSE behaviour compared to the Health Belief Model (HBM).

Methods: For objective 1, men who did not report any past SSE at baseline (n=308) were categorised as having ‘taken up SSE’ (reported SSE at study end) or ‘resisted SSE’ (reported no SSE at study end). Bivariate logistic regression, followed by multivariable regression, investigated the association between participant characteristics measured at baseline and resisting SSE. For objective 2 proxy measures of self-efficacy, perceived threat, and outcome expectations were selected. To determine whether these mediated the effect of the intervention on the outcome, a mediator analysis was performed with all participants who completed interviews at both time points (n=830) following the Baron and Kenny approach, modified for use with structural equation modelling (SEM).

For objective 3, control group participants only were included (n=410). Proxy measures of all HBM and HAPA constructs were selected and SEM was used to build up models and test the significance of each hypothesised pathway. A likelihood ratio test compared the HAPA to the HBM.

Results: Amongst men who did not report any SSE at baseline, 27% did not take up any SSE by the end of the study. In multivariable analyses, resisting SSE was associated with having more freckly skin (p=0.027); being unsure about the statement ‘if I saw something suspicious on my skin, I’d go to the doctor straight away’ (p=0.028); not intending to perform SSE (p=0.015), having lower SSE self-efficacy (p<0.001), and having no recommendation for SSE from a doctor (p=0.002).

In the mediator analysis none of the tested variables mediated the relationship between the intervention and wbSSE. In regards to health behaviour models, the HBM did not predict wbSSE well overall. Only the construct of self-efficacy was a significant predictor of future wbSSE (p=0.001), while neither perceived threat (p=0.584) nor outcome expectations (p=0.220) were. By contrast, when the HAPA constructs were added, all three HBM variables predicted intention to perform SSE, which in turn predicted future behaviour (p=0.015). The HAPA construct of volitional self-efficacy was also associated with wbSSE (p=0.046). The HAPA was a significantly better model compared to the HBM (p<0.001).

Limitations: Items selected to measure HBM and HAPA model constructs for objectives 2 and 3 may not have accurately reflected each construct.

Conclusions: This research added to the evidence base on how best to target interventions to older men; and on the appropriateness of particular health behaviour models to guide interventions.

Findings indicate that to overcome resistance those men with more negative pre-existing attitudes to SSE (not intending to do it, lower initial self-efficacy) may need to be targeted with more intensive interventions in the future. Involving general practitioners in recommending SSE to their patients in this population, alongside disseminating an intervention, may increase its success.

Comparison of the HBM and HAPA showed that while two of the three HBM variables examined did not directly predict future wbSSE, all three were associated with intention to self-examine skin. This suggests that in this population, intervening on these variables may increase intention to examine skin, but not necessarily the behaviour itself. Future interventions could potentially focus on increasing both the motivational variables of perceived threat and outcome expectations as well as a combination of both action and volitional self-efficacy; with the aim of increasing intention as well as its translation to taking up and maintaining regular wbSSE.

Impact and interest:

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

208 since deposited on 28 Sep 2011
7 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 46236
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Janda, Monika
Keywords: melanoma, self-examination, early diagnosis, males, middle aged, aged, psychological theories, public health
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 28 Sep 2011 05:42
Last Modified: 28 Sep 2011 05:42

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page