Indoor tanning is a risk factor for skin cancer, particularly among young, white women. Our researchers found that persuasive health messages that encourage young women to quit indoor tanning should focus on their beliefs that it helps their appearance and mood, rather than the health risks.

20% of our nation’s young, white women indoor tan, knowing the risk of skin cancer. In November and December of 2015, a national online  survey was conducted with 279 non-Hispanic white women, ages 18-25 in the United States, who indoor tan.

This survey investigated the young women’s beliefs and attitudes as well as social influences that kept them from quitting.

“Young women were most concerned about skin damage and that quitting tanning might affect their mood,” says Amy Bleakley PhD, MPH, lead author of the study. “It was interesting that quitting tanning to prevent skin cancer did not motivate their intention to quit. Health messages that focus on appearance and mood instead of skin cancer may be more effective in encouraging young women to quit indoor tanning.”

Researchers suggest that health messages from doctors, parents and other loved ones aimed at discouraging indoor tanning should highlight the belief that quitting indoor tanning will reduce skin damage. In addition, messages should counter the belief that quitting will make them less happy. Finally, messages should highlight key people who would approve of them quitting indoor tanning.

Read the article here.


Amy Bleakley, Amy Jordan, Morgan E Ellithorpe, DeAnn Lazovich, Sara Grossman, Karen Glanz

Translational Behavioral Medicine, ibx007,
Published: March 15, 2018