Sunbathing: college students' knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions of risks

J Am Coll Health. 1993 Jul;42(1):21-6. doi: 10.1080/07448481.1993.9940452.


This study assessed the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of college students regarding intentional sun exposure (sunbathing). Results are based on responses of 296 Caucasian students to the Sun and Skin Inventory. Frequent sunbathers were more likely than infrequent sunbathers to be women and to report fewer self-perceived risk factors, and were less likely to use sunscreen. They were also more likely to believe that they look better with a tan, that suntanned skin is more attractive, and that suntans look healthy. Forty-three percent of the female respondents and 61% of the men rarely, if ever, used sunscreens, and only 9% of all respondents reported they used sunscreens with every intentional sun exposure of 30 minutes or longer. These results suggest that concern with attractiveness appears to be a major motivation for frequent intentional sun exposure. Consequently, educational strategies that stress health outcomes only may be less effective than those that also stress photoaging, the detrimental cumulative effect to appearance of suntanning.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Heliotherapy / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / prevention & control
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / psychology
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Aging / radiation effects*
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Skin Neoplasms / psychology
  • Students / psychology*
  • Sunburn / prevention & control*
  • Sunburn / psychology
  • Sunlight / adverse effects
  • Sunscreening Agents / administration & dosage*


  • Sunscreening Agents