An integrated model of skin cancer risk in sexual minority males

J Behav Med. 2018 Feb;41(1):99-108. doi: 10.1007/s10865-017-9879-2. Epub 2017 Aug 16.


Sexual minority males are an at-risk group for developing skin cancer. Elevated rates of skin cancer among this population are thought to be driven by excess indoor tanning; however, motivations to indoor tan among this population are unknown. Theoretically, appearance-based and affect regulation motives may be proximal predictors of increased indoor tanning in this population. The current study tests an integrated biopsychosocial model of indoor tanning behaviors and future intentions among a sample of sexual minority males. Participants were 231 sexual minority males, between the age of 14 and 35 years, residing in San Diego County, California, who completed a battery of self-report questionnaires online. Constructs assessed included skin tone, perceived susceptibility to skin cancer, sociocultural pressures to tan, appearance-based motives to tan, affect regulation in regard to indoor tanning, indoor tanning behaviors over the previous 3 months, and future intentions to indoor tan. The three proposed proximal predictors of indoor tanning all displayed significant pathways; however, results varied depending upon the specific outcome measure modeled. Affect regulation was significantly associated with increased odds of indoor tanning, and future intentions to indoor tan. Increased appearance reasons to tan were significantly associated with future intentions to indoor tan, while increased appearance reasons not to tan were significantly associated with fewer number of indoor tanning sessions. Results underscore the unique pathways of affect regulation and appearance-based motives in indoor tanning behaviors. Skin cancer prevention programs focusing on sexual minority males may wish to address affect and appearance concerns.

Keywords: Affect; Appearance; Indoor tanning; Males; Sexual minority; Skin cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • California
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell* / prevention & control
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell* / psychology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell* / prevention & control
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Male
  • Melanoma* / prevention & control
  • Melanoma* / psychology
  • Models, Psychological
  • Motivation
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / prevention & control*
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / psychology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities / psychology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Skin Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Sunbathing / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects
  • Young Adult