Communicating risk of skin cancer may be most effective to reduce indoor tanning among young white women​

April 26, 2020


Objectives: Indoor tanning, which is most common among 18-25-year-old white women, increases the risk of skin cancer. To address this problem, we developed and tested messages with a national sample of indoor tanners to determine beliefs that would encourage them to quit. 
Methods: Messages discouraging indoor tanning using different persuasive themes (skin cancer risk, appearance risk, well-being enhancement) were developed based on formative research and a review of intervention efforts. We conducted an online experiment to test the final messages with a national sample of 480 indoor tanners. 
Results: Messages that emphasized skin cancer risk out-performed messages that focused on well-being enhancement or damage to appearance in terms of intention to quit indoor tanning. Analyses revealed 2 key mediators: perceived argument strength and beliefs related to the effects of indoor tanning. 
Conclusions: Theory- and evidence-informed public health communications can contribute to improving health-related behaviors. Focusing on the risk of skin cancer may be the most effective strategy to reduce indoor tanning among young white women.


Jordan, A. B., Bleakley, A., Alber, J. M., Lazovich, D., & Glanz, K. (2020). Developing and Testing Message Strategies to Reduce Indoor Tanning. American Journal of Health Behavior44(3), 292–301. doi: 10.5993/ajhb.44.3.2

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