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Cancer Control Research

5R03CA136007-02
Heckman, Carolyn J.
INVESTIGATING NOVEL CORRELATES OF INDOOR TANNING EXPERIENCES: PROJECT INCITE

Abstract

Skin cancer, the most common human malignancy, is associated with ultraviolet radiation (UVR), particularly when exposure is from artificial sources. Tanning beds emit more UVR over a shorter period of time than sunbathing, greatly increasing the risk for the development of skin cancers. While most skin cancers are not fatal, they are common, costly, and can have devastating effects on health and appearance. Little research has been conducted on indoor tanning despite its stronger association with skin cancer than sunbathing, particularly among young women. Studies have typically involved very brief surveys or interviews that have not explored the issues in an in-depth manner or investigated relationships between indoor tanning and psychological and addictive symptoms. Prior studies have provided rates and correlates of tanning booth use but have focused primarily on young adolescents. However, up to one half of young adult women may be indoor tanners. The specific aims of the proposed project are to: (1) evaluate motivations for indoor tanning and identify motivational profiles of different subgroups of young adult females and (2) evaluate whether similar associations and profiles hold for sunbathing and inverse relationships exist for skin protective behavior such as sunscreen use. The study design involves a detailed survey and structured clinical interview to explore the appearance, affective, and addictive motivations of indoor tanning and delineate psychological profiles of young adult women at high risk for skin damage and potential skin cancer. As suggested by the literature, we anticipate being able to identify subgroups of young adult females who are qualitatively different from one another in terms of correlates of indoor tanning. Young women often tan indoors despite knowledge of the health hazards; therefore, their potentially complex motivations need to be further investigated. Based on the results of this study, we plan to design and test a novel intervention that addresses relevant psychological and addictive problems among young adult female indoor tanners.


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