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Eur J Public Health. 2015 Feb;25(1):150-5. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/cku047. Epub 2014 Apr 23.

The German SCREEN project--design and evaluation of the communication strategy.

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1 Association of Dermatological Prevention, Hamburg, Germany
1 Association of Dermatological Prevention, Hamburg, Germany 2 Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, Medical Clinic, Charité - Universitätsmedizin, Berlin, Germany 3 School of Health and Social Development, Deakin University, Burwood, VIC, Australia.
4 Institute of Social Medicine and Epidemiology, University of Luebeck, Luebeck, Germany.
5 Marcus Capellaro - Institute for Design and Evaluation of Communicative Measures, Hamburg, Germany.
1 Association of Dermatological Prevention, Hamburg, Germany 6 Center of Dermatology, Elbe Clinics, Buxtehude, Germany.



Skin cancer is the most common cancer in light-skinned populations worldwide. Primary and secondary preventive activities such as skin cancer screening are intended to reduce skin cancer burden. In 2003, a population-based skin cancer screening project [SCREEN (Skin Cancer Research to Provide Evidence for Effectiveness of Screening in Northern Germany)] was conducted in Northern Germany with more than 360,000 people screened. SCREEN was supported by a communication intervention that was aimed at informing the population about skin cancer, its risk factors and the screening intervention as well as preparing the health professionals for the project. Within SCREEN both physicians and practice nurses were educated in counselling. The aim of the present article is to describe and evaluate the communication strategy accompanying SCREEN.


Two computer-assisted telephone interview surveys were performed in April/May 2003 and May 2004. Participants had to be members of the statutory health insurance and be aged 20 years. They were asked about knowledge of skin cancer, perception of physicians' performance and skin cancer screening in general. Data are mainly presented in a descriptive manner. For statistical analyses, Mann-Whitney U test and Pearson's chi-square test were used.


Knowledge about sunburn in childhood and high ultraviolet exposure as skin cancer risk factors increased during SCREEN. Simultaneously, the awareness for early detection of skin cancer increased significantly from 41.3 to 74.0% (P < 0.001). A total of 21.5% of the interviewees participated in the skin cancer screening project, similar to the population-based participation rate reached.


A comprehensive communication strategy accompanying a screening intervention improves the knowledge of potential screenees and may additionally increase the participation rate.

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