Purpose: Exposure to ultraviolet radiation and a history of sunburn in childhood contribute to risk of skin cancer in adolescence and in adulthood, but many adolescents continue to seek a tan, either from the sun or from tanning beds (i.e., intentional tanning). To understand tanning behavior among adolescents, we conducted a systematic review of the literature to identify correlates of intentional tanning in the United States.
Methods: We included articles on original research published in English between January 1, 2001, and October 31, 2011, that used self-reported data on intentional tanning by U.S. adolescents aged 8 to 18 years and examined potential correlates of tanning behaviors. Thirteen articles met our criteria; all used cross-sectional survey data and quantitative methods to assess correlates of intentional tanning.
Results: Results indicate that multiple factors influence tanning among adolescents. Individual factors that correlated with intentional tanning include demographic factors (female sex, older age), attitudes (preferring tanned skin), and behaviors (participating in other risky or appearance-focused behaviors such as dieting). Social factors correlated with intentional tanning include parental influence (having a parent who tans or permits tanning) and peer influence (having friends who tan). Only four studies examined broad contextual factors such as indoor tanning laws and geographic characteristics; they found that proximity to tanning facilities and geographic characteristics (living in the Midwest or South, living in a low ultraviolet area, and attending a rural high school) are associated with intentional tanning.
Conclusions: These findings inform future public health research and intervention efforts to reduce intentional tanning.
Published by Elsevier Inc.