Long-term effects of appearance-based interventions on sun protection behaviors

Health Psychol. 2007 May;26(3):350-60. doi: 10.1037/0278-6133.26.3.350.


Objectives: To examine the longer term efficacies of exposure to UV photographs and photoaging information (e.g., wrinkles and age spots) for increasing sun protection intentions and behaviors of young adults.

Design: Randomized controlled trial with 4- to 5-month and 12-month follow-ups.

Main outcome measures: Participants' self-reported sun protection intentions assessed immediately after the interventions, and both self-reported sun protection behaviors and an objective assessment (via spectrophotometry) of skin color change measured at the end of summer (4-5 months following interventions) and 1 year following interventions.

Results: Both interventions resulted in immediate positive effects on future sun protection intentions. Both interventions showed objective evidence of less skin darkening at the postsummer follow-up, with those in the photoaging information condition also reporting more sun protective behavior and continuing to show less skin darkening 1 year after intervention. There was also evidence that effects of photoaging information on subsequent skin color change were mediated by the earlier positive effect photoaging information had on participants' intentions to sun protect and their subsequent sun protection behaviors.

Conclusions: UV photo and photoaging-information interventions each show promise as a brief and relatively inexpensive approach for motivating sun protection practices that may reduce skin cancer risk.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*
  • Skin Aging*
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Spectrophotometry
  • Sunburn / prevention & control*
  • Sunscreening Agents* / therapeutic use


  • Sunscreening Agents