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April 1, 2008

Indoor Tanning Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behavior Among Young Adults From 1988-2007

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Dermatology (Dr Robinson and Ms Ortiz), Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine (Ms Rosenbaum), and Rush University Medical School (Ms Kim), Chicago, Illinois.

Arch Dermatol. 2008;144(4):484-488. doi:10.1001/archderm.144.4.484

Objective  To compare knowledge, attitudes, and behavior about indoor tanning and sources of information among young adults in the summer of 1988, 1994, and 2007.

Design  Convenience survey of 100 Chicago, Illinois, beachgoers aged 18 to 30 years who were age- and sex-matched with Chicago-area residents who participated in random-digit–dialed telephone interviews in 1988 and 1994.

Setting  Lakefront beach on weekday afternoons in July 2007.

Main Outcome Measures  Knowledge of melanoma/skin cancer link with tanning, and limiting tanning to help prevent melanoma/skin cancer; attitude about the appearance of tanned people; and knowledge of relevant information sources; and UV indoor tanning use in the past year.

Results  Knowledge of the melanoma/skin cancer link with tanning changed from 1988 (42%) to 1994 (38%) to 2007 (87%). Knowledge of limiting tanning to help prevent melanoma increased from 1988 (25%) to 1994 (77%), but decreased from 1994 to 2007 (67%). This decline in knowledge about limiting tanning was concurrent with an increase in the attitude that having a tan looks better (1994, 69%; 2007, 81%). Use of indoor tanning beds increased from 1988 (1%) to 1994 (26%) and remained at the same level in 2007 (27%). Although physicians, especially dermatologists, were sources of information about tanning (1988, 2%; 1994, 18%; 2007, 31%) and were considered the most trusted source, only 14% of respondents in 1994 and 2007 reported ever talking to a doctor about indoor tanning.

Conclusion  Because young adults report that physicians are their most trusted source of information about tanning, a potential opportunity exists for physicians to influence indoor tanning behavior by counseling their patients.