Randomized Trial Of A Social Media-Delivered Intervention Targeting Indoor Tanning Users

Project Details


The number of U.S. adults treated annually for melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, has nearlydoubled in the past 15 years and the incidence rate is projected to again double by 2030. This growth is partlyattributed to the popularity of artificial ultraviolet-emitting indoor tanning beds. Despite recognition by numerousnational and international health organizations as being carcinogenic to humans, nearly 10 million Americansuse indoor tanning beds each year. An estimated 1 in 10 of all new U.S. cases of melanoma and 400,000annual cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are directly attributable to indoor tanning. Most concerning, nearly1 in 5 young adult white females engage in high-risk indoor tanning, defined as using indoor tanning beds atleast ten times a year, which is associated with a substantially increased risk of melanoma. As indoor tanninggained popularity among young women over the past two decades, melanoma has recently become one of themost common cancers among this population. The 2014 Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent SkinCancer identified a critical research gap related to an absence of interventions that target high risk indoortanners and address underlying motives for tanning, including “the desire to look attractive and healthy and toconform to societal beauty standards”. The purpose of this application is to implement and test an interventiondesigned to encourage indoor tanning cessation among high-risk tanners. The intervention is unique in usingpersuasive techniques and content to reduce perceived pressure to be tan, reduce the value placed on tanning,and promote positive body image rather than focusing on information about the risks of tanning. Theintervention will be delivered via the social media site Facebook through the “secret groups” feature. The useof Facebook groups will allow group-based interactions among participants, which can facilitate strongerchanges in attitudes and behaviors, and provides a platform to embed the intervention into individuals' normalroutines. The first proposed aim is to refine the existing intervention content from our preliminary interventionstudies with user-generated feedback. The second aim is to conduct a randomized controlled trial of theintervention in a sample of 400 young women engaged in high-risk tanning. Our primary hypothesis is thatparticipants who receive the intervention will report less indoor tanning at a 6-month follow-up compared tothose who participate in a control Facebook group. Our third aim will examine hypothesized psychosocialmediators of the intervention effects. The intervention has strong potential for cost-effective, widespreaddissemination and targets a group at high-risk for future cancer development. If effective, the intervention hasthe potential to significantly reduce the growing burden of melanoma and other skin cancers.      
Effective start/end date7/15/175/31/22


  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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