Booklets may alter women's attitudes to tanning

In collaboration with the Press Association

New research suggests that providing women with booklets on indoor tanning could help to alter their attitudes towards sunbeds and reduce rates of skin cancer.

Researchers at East Tennessee State University studied the impact of a booklet detailing the effects of indoor tanning.

The publication contained information on the history of tanning, the damaging effects of sunbed use and the impact of UV radiation on the appearance of the skin.

 

It also recommended healthier alternatives for improving appearance, such as exercising and fake tanning products.

Researchers gave the booklet to 200 female students between the ages of 17 and 21 and assessed their use of sunbeds, both before issuing the booklets and six months later.

When compared with a further 230 female students who were not given the booklets, the study participants were found to reduce their use of sunbeds by around 35 per cent and indicated that they planned to continue using sunbeds less frequently in the future.

Students who had read the booklet also revealed less positive attitudes towards indoor tanning and were found to regard sunless tanning products more favourably.

However, the booklets did not seem to influence women's perceptions on their susceptibility to skin damage or skin cancer as a result of using a sunbed.

The findings suggest that, while educational materials may not increase women's fear of developing skin cancer, they can change attitudes towards indoor tanning and bring about changes in behaviour.

Publishing their findings in

Cancer journal

, the researchers concluded: "A simple message delivery method - a booklet - was able to achieve clinically significant reductions in ultraviolet exposure behaviour."

They added that the findings support the use of interventions to change young people's sunbed usage "and ultimately reduce skin cancer morbidity and mortality".