Objective: To compare knowledge, attitudes, and behavior about indoor tanning and sources of information among young adults in the summer of 1988, 1994, and 2007.
Design: Convenience survey of 100 Chicago, Illinois, beachgoers aged 18 to 30 years who were age- and sex-matched with Chicago-area residents who participated in random-digit-dialed telephone interviews in 1988 and 1994.
Setting: Lakefront beach on weekday afternoons in July 2007.
Main outcome measures: Knowledge of melanoma/skin cancer link with tanning, and limiting tanning to help prevent melanoma/skin cancer; attitude about the appearance of tanned people; and knowledge of relevant information sources; and UV indoor tanning use in the past year.
Results: Knowledge of the melanoma/skin cancer link with tanning changed from 1988 (42%) to 1994 (38%) to 2007 (87%). Knowledge of limiting tanning to help prevent melanoma increased from 1988 (25%) to 1994 (77%), but decreased from 1994 to 2007 (67%). This decline in knowledge about limiting tanning was concurrent with an increase in the attitude that having a tan looks better (1994, 69%; 2007, 81%). Use of indoor tanning beds increased from 1988 (1%) to 1994 (26%) and remained at the same level in 2007 (27%). Although physicians, especially dermatologists, were sources of information about tanning (1988, 2%; 1994, 18%; 2007, 31%) and were considered the most trusted source, only 14% of respondents in 1994 and 2007 reported ever talking to a doctor about indoor tanning. Conclusion Because young adults report that physicians are their most trusted source of information about tanning, a potential opportunity exists for physicians to influence indoor tanning behavior by counseling their patients.