Objectives: To examine the efficacy of UV photographs and information about photoaging (eg, wrinkles and age spots) for increasing the sun protection intentions and behaviors of young adults and to determine whether any effects of this appearance-based intervention could be enhanced by providing a non-UV alternative for achieving a tan (ie, sunless tanning lotion).
Design: Randomized control trial with 1-month follow-up.
Setting: Two universities in Southern California.
Participants: A volunteer sample of 146 college students, 91.1% of whom completed the "surprise" 1-month follow-up.
Intervention: A UV facial photograph and a brief videotape describing the causes and consequences of photoaging. The study tested the effects of the photoaging information/UV photographic intervention only, the intervention plus use of sunless tanning lotion, and a control condition.
Main outcome measures: Participants sun protection intentions as assessed immediately after the intervention and sun protection behaviors during the month after the intervention as assessed during a surprise telephone follow-up.
Results: The intervention resulted in significantly stronger sun protection intentions (P<.001) and greater sun protection behaviors (P<.05) relative to controls. Furthermore, the group that also used sunless tanning lotion tended to engage in greater sun protection behaviors than the group that received the intervention alone (P<.08).
Conclusion: The UV photographic intervention holds promise as a cost-effective approach to motivate practices that may ultimately result in health benefits (ie, reduced skin cancer rates).