Proof-of-Concept Feasibility Trial of a Dissonance-Based Sun Safety Intervention for Young Adult Tanners

Ann Behav Med. 2022 Aug 2;56(8):830-841. doi: 10.1093/abm/kaab116.


Background: Melanoma is the second most common cancer in young adults. Social media may be a means to conduct interventions to increase sun safety in young adults.

Purpose: We conducted a randomized proof-of-concept pilot trial to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of a dissonance-based social media intervention designed to promote sun safety in young adult tanners.

Methods: Young adult tanners (N = 66) were randomized into two 4-week interventions in which participants were incentivized to create content for a social media campaign on healthy skin or healthy lifestyle. Feasibility outcomes included retention, participation, acceptability, and contamination. We also examined the impact of participation on motivation to engage in the target health behaviors and outdoor tanning intentions.

Results: Retention was 100%. Most Healthy Skin (88%) and Healthy Lifestyle participants (91%) created ≥1 post. Acceptability was high with 94% and 97% of participants in Healthy Skin and Healthy Lifestyle conditions, respectively, agreeing they would recommend the campaign to a friend. At 4 weeks, Healthy Skin participants reported greater declines in motivation to tan indoors (p = .0017) and outdoors (p = .0003), and greater increases in motivation to wear sunscreen (p = .0009) and protective clothing (p = .0342). Healthy Skin participants reported greater declines in intentions to tan outdoors in the next year (p = .0286).

Conclusions: A dissonance-based, social media sun safety intervention was feasible and acceptable. Future research should examine the efficacy and longer-term effects of this intervention in young adults at elevated risk for skin cancer.

Trial registration: NCT03834974

Keywords: Dissonance; Skin cancer; Sun protection; Tanning.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Feasibility Studies
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Skin Neoplasms* / prevention & control
  • Sunbathing*
  • Sunscreening Agents
  • Young Adult


  • Sunscreening Agents

Associated data