JMIR Dermatol. 2023 Nov 21;6:e49950. doi: 10.2196/49950.
BACKGROUND: Oculocutaneous albinism is a congenital disorder that causes hypopigmentation of the skin, hair, and eyes due to a lack of melanin. People with albinism are at increased risk of developing skin complications, such as solar keratosis and skin cancers, leading to higher morbidity. As education is crucial in managing albinism, leveraging information technology, such as WhatsApp, can provide an effective intervention for digital health education.
OBJECTIVE: This study aims to assess the impact of WhatsApp as a tool for providing health education among people with albinism.
METHODS: The design of the study was interventional. The intervention consisted of weekly health education sessions conducted in a WhatsApp group for the duration of 4 weeks. The topics discussed were knowledge of albinism, sun protection practices, the use of sunscreen, and myths about albinism. They were all covered in 4 WhatsApp sessions held in 4 separate days. A web-based questionnaire was filled out before and after the intervention by the participants. Mann-Whitney U test was used to compare the pre- and postknowledge scores. Spearman correlation was used to correlate data.
RESULTS: The mean age of the study participants was 28.28 (SD 11.57) years. The number of participants was 140 in the preintervention period and 66 in the postintervention period. A statistically significant increase in overall knowledge (P=.01), knowledge of sunscreen (P=.01), and knowledge of sun protection (P<.01) was observed following the intervention. Before the intervention, a positive correlation was observed between age (r=0.17; P=.03) and education level (r=0.19; P=.02) with participants’ overall knowledge. However, after the intervention, there was no significant correlation between knowledge and age or education level. A percentage increase of 5.23% was observed in the overall knowledge scores following the intervention.
CONCLUSIONS: WhatsApp is an effective tool for educating people with albinism and can act as an alternative to the conventional methods of health education. It shows promising outcomes irrespective of the health literacy level of people with albinism. This educational intervention can positively impact behavior change and translate to consistent sun protection practices. The limitations of this study include the possibility of social desirability bias and data security.