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Psychological correlates of adherence to photoprotection in a rare disease: International survey of people with Xeroderma Pigmentosum

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Jessica Walburn, Martha Canfield, Sam Norton, Kirby Sainsbury, Vera Araujo-Soares, Lesley Foster, Mark Berneburg, Alain Sarasin, Natalie Morrison-Bowen, Falko Sniehotta, Robert Sarkany, John Weinman

Original languageEnglish
Article numberAID - BJHP12375
Pages (from-to)668-686
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Health Psychology
Issue number3
Early online date11 Jun 2019
Accepted/In press5 Jun 2019
E-pub ahead of print11 Jun 2019


King's Authors


Objectives. Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) is an extremely rare genetic disorder (approximately 100 known cases in the United Kingdom), where DNA damage caused by ultraviolet radiation in daylight cannot be repaired. Adherence to photoprotection is essential to prevent skin cancer. We investigated psychological correlates of photoprotection in the XP population of Western Europe and the United States. Design. Cross-sectional survey of adults with XP and caregivers of patients <16 years and those with cognitive impairment in the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States, and France (n = 156). Methods. Photoprotection activities to protect the face and body when outdoors; avoidance of going outside during daylight hours; intention; self-efficacy; and social support were assessed using measures developed for this study. Participants answered questions about their illness representations of XP (BIPQ); beliefs about photoprotection (BMQ); automaticity (i.e., without conscious effort) (SRBAI); clinical and demographic characteristics. Ordinal logistic regressions determined factors associated with photoprotection. Results. One third did not achieve optimal face photoprotection. After controlling for demographic and clinical factors, modifiable correlates of higher photoprotection included greater perceived control of XP, stronger beliefs in necessity and effectiveness of photoprotection, and higher intention. Avoidance of going outside was associated with greater photoprotection concerns, more serious illness consequences, and higher XPrelated distress. Greater automaticity and higher self-efficacy were associated with better protection across all outcomes. Conclusions. Approximately half of all known cases across three European countries participated. Identified modifiable predictors of photoprotection may be targeted by interventions to reduce the incidence of skin cancers in the immediate future, when a treatment breakthrough is unlikely.

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