In the JournalsPerspective

Family discussions may reduce risky tanning behaviors among adolescent girls

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

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

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

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

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

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

    Perspective
    Sherry L. Pagoto

    Sherry L. Pagoto

    Results are consistent with my experience studying teens and their moms such that tanning is often not prioritized as a risky behavior worth focusing on. Parents often say they already have to restrict their teens from smoking, eating junk food and drugs, so they are reluctant to add more restrictions to the list.

    Unfortunately, we are in a place where there are more cancers resulting from tanning beds than there are cancers resulting from smoking. Skin cancer is not only the most prevalent cancer, but is one of the few cancers that grows in prevalence each year.

    We have to combat the myths about indoor tanning being a source of vitamin D, that it is safer than the sun, or that it is a treatment for seasonal depression. People hear of these “benefits” and this mitigates their concern about the risks. The message about the risks of tanning is too often undermined by these myths that won’t seem to die. The FDA’s proposal to ban indoor tanning in minors could have a profound effect. I have heard tanners say, “if tanning is so bad, why is it legal?” Like cigarettes and alcohol, restricting use in minors sends the message to the public that tanning is not safe.

    • Sherry L. Pagoto, PhD
    • Division of preventive and behavioral medicine University of Massachusetts Medical School

    Disclosures: Pagoto reports no relevant financial disclosures.

    Perspective
    Jerod Stapleton

    Jerod Stapleton

    This idea of engaging family members or mothers in preventing indoor tanning among adolescent girls is an interesting idea and a great strategy moving forward. Existing studies are focused on girls who are tanning and mothers who are allowing their daughters to tan and thinking about why?  A lot of young women during the first time they go tanning, they may or may not go with their mother. But their mothers are generally aware of it, and a lot of the time have to sign off on it, so there’s a bit of an element of maternal influence to it. But, I think this study takes a different approach and highlights the importance of using parents as a way of getting our message across, which is trying to get girls to avoid using tanning beds. it is interesting to see that almost 96% to 97% of mothers have talked about tanning in the past.

    These findings seem to suggest that tanning on the radar for mothers and daughters in terms of a health issue. Also, I think what is really interesting, in addition to all of that, is the study really talks about ways to engage mothers and family members and help promote efforts in general, but specifically indoor tanning in this way. It isn’t always easy to do that — how do you reach the families of young people? Young people, they’re in school, they’re learning about health and body in health classes, that’s one thing — but, how do you reach beyond that?  One important way may be to engage mothers and parents as partners in health education.

    • Jerod Stapleton, PhD
    • Department of medicine, section of population science Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

    Disclosures: Stapleton reports no relevant financial disclosures.