A randomised control crossover trial of a theory based intervention to improve sun-safe and healthy behaviours in construction workers: Study protocol

Amanda Nioi*, Charlotte Wendelboe-Nelson, Sue Cowan, Hilary Cowie, Shahzad Rashid, Peter Ritchie, Mark Cherrie, Terry C. Lansdown, John W. Cherrie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
62 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Exposure to sunlight can have both positive and negative health impacts. Excessive exposure to ultra-violet (UV) radiation from the sun can cause skin cancer, however insufficient exposure to sunlight has a detrimental effect on production of Vitamin D. In the construction industry there are onsite proactive behaviours for safety, but sun-safety remains a low priority. There is limited research on understanding the barriers to adopting sun-safe behaviours and the association this may have with Vitamin D production. This paper reports a protocol for an intervention study, using text messaging in combination with a supportive smartphone App. The intervention aims to both reduce UV exposure during months with higher UV levels and promote appropriate dietary changes to boost Vitamin D levels during months with low UV levels.

Method/design: Approximately 60 construction workers will be recruited across the United Kingdom. A randomised control crossover trial (RCCT) will be used to test the intervention, with randomisation at site level - i.e. participants will receive both the control (no text messages or supportive App support) and intervention (daily text messages and supportive App). Using the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) the intervention focuses on supporting sun-safety and healthy dietary decisions in relation to Vitamin D intake. The intervention emphasises cultivating the perception of normative support in the workplace, increasing awareness of control and self-efficacy in taking sun-protective behaviours, making healthier eating choices to boost Vitamin D, and tackling stigmas attached to image and group norms. Each study epoch will last 21 days with intervention text messages delivered on workdays only. The supportive App will provide supplementary information about sun protective behaviours and healthy dietary choices. The primary outcome measure is 25-hydroxy-Vitamin D [25(OH)D] level (obtained using blood spot sampling), which will be taken pre and post control and intervention periods. Secondary outcome measures are two-fold, (1) using the TPB to detect changes in behaviour, and (2) quantifying UV exposure during the UK peak radiation season (April-September) using body-mounted UV sensors.

Discussion: This study will provide important information about the effectiveness of a technology-based intervention to promote sun-safety and healthy behaviours in outdoor construction workers.

Trial registration: ISRCTN15888934 retrospectively registered 15.01.2018.

Original languageEnglish
Article number259
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2018


  • Healthy behaviours
  • Skin cancer
  • Sun-safety
  • Text messaging intervention
  • Theory of planned behaviour
  • Vitamin D

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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