Perspective from Sherry L. Pagoto, PhD
Perspective from Jerod Stapleton, PhD
May 30, 2016
3 min read

Family discussions may reduce risky tanning behaviors among adolescent girls

Perspective from Sherry L. Pagoto, PhD
Perspective from Jerod Stapleton, PhD
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Recent research in the Journal of Adolescent Health identified opportunities to enhance risk awareness and reduce risky tanning behaviors during mother and daughter discussions.

“Mother/daughter dyads reported gaining knowledge about tanning risks from a combination of health education and personal and family experiences,” Jennifer L. Hay, PhD, at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and colleagues wrote. “Results emphasize the value of educational interventions designed to raise melanoma-related risk awareness and suggest the potential benefit of improving knowledge maintenance and family engagement through information sharing.”

Jennifer Hay

Jennifer L. Hay

The researchers conducted discussions with 22 girls, aged 15 to 17 years, and their mothers. They focused on semi-structured interviews regarding topics on outdoor tanning, indoor tanning and other health risks. The researchers then conducted a comprehensive analysis of the interview results to determine their primary themes.

Study results showed that while 96% of dyads reported previous indoor tanning behaviors, 91% of mothers and daughters reported no recent indoor tanning, and 63% reported no interest in indoor tanning.

Hay and colleagues found that the interviews were characterized by four key themes: high rates of prior indoor tanning, minimizing the risk of tanning compared with other risky behaviors, directional communication from school health to home through family discussions, and the effect of personal experiences on tanning behaviors. The researchers said that more obviously threatening behaviors — such as smoking, drinking or sexual engagement — were often used to minimize the danger of indoor tanning. Among those who endorsed the use of indoor tanning, risks were minimized by highlighting the positive effects of tanning on appearance. – by David Costill

Gordon M, et al. J Adolesc Health. 2016;doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2016.02.001. 

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.