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Developing and Testing Message Strategies to Reduce Indoor Tanning

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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.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Amy B. Jordan, Professor, School of Communication and Information, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ;, Email: [email protected] 2: Amy Bleakley, Professor, Department of Communication, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 3: Julia M. Alber, Assistant Professor, Department of Kinesiology and Public Health, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA 4: DeAnn Lazovich, Associate Professor, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 5: Karen Glanz, George A. Weiss University Professor, Perelman School of Medicine and School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

Publication date: May 1, 2020

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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