Online Program

It's not serious: Rural College Women's Perceptions of Indoor Tanning Risks and Benefits

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Laurel Schwartz, DrPH, MPH, Department of Health Promotion and Administration, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, KY
Katharine Head, Ph.D., Department of Communication Studies, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN
Anne Dostart, B.S., Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, KY
background:  Skin cancer accounts for half of all cancer cases in the U.S. and indoor tanning, a behavior most prevalent among college aged women, is an important skin cancer risk factor.

methods: Female indoor tanners aged 18 to 25 were recruited from a southeastern University. Twenty-four participants completed both an online survey and in-depth interview; questions followed the Health Belief Model and current tanning literature. Data was collected in March 2014 and interviews were transcribed verbatim. The transcripts were analyzed by all authors using an iterative process.

results: Overall, most participants understood basic skin cancer risk factors including UV exposure and demographics (e.g., fair skin and light hair). However, when asked about their personal risk, many participants perceived both a low short term and long term threat of skin cancer. The majority of participants did not identify skin cancer as severe and had low susceptibility despite their tanning history. Moreover, tanning benefits far overshadowed any potential risks. Participants listed improved appearance (e.g., attractive tan skin and less acne) in addition to positive experiential attitudes (e.g., stress relief brought on tanning) as benefits of indoor tanning.

conclusions: This study suggests that rural college women’s perceptions of tanning benefits outweigh the risks. The behavior is complicated by both short term and long term risks and these women’s understanding of both. Future interventions and health communication should focus on increasing susceptibility and severity of the negative health effects of indoor tanning.

Learning Areas:

Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss rural, college age women's perceptions of risks and benefits of indoor tanning.

Keyword(s): College Students, Behavioral Research

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I'm qualified to be an abstract author on the content I'm responsible for because I have three degrees, two of which are advanced degrees in public health (MPH,DrPH). Additionally, I have six years of public health practice and academic experience, and multiple publications on cancer prevention and control.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.