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Focus on Appearance Changes Tanning Practice

Tanning practices decline following an appearance-focused intervention

THURSDAY, Oct. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Appearance-focused interventions are useful in changing both behaviors and attitudes related to indoor tanning, according to a report published online Oct. 20 in Cancer.

Joel Hillhouse, Ph.D., of East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, and colleagues randomized 430 female indoor tanners to an appearance-focused intervention or no intervention, and examined self-reports of indoor tanning behavior, intentions, and measures of cognitive mediating variables. The intervention consisted of an appearance-focused booklet based on decision-theoretical models of health behavior.

Rates of increased springtime indoor tanning were significantly lower (over 35 percent) at six-month follow-up among intervention compared to the control participants with similar reductions related to future intentions, the researchers report. Indoor tanning behaviors were significantly mediated by changes in six cognitive variables (indoor tanning attitudes, fashion attitudes, perceived susceptibility to skin cancer and skin damage, subjective norms and image norms), the authors found.

"These results support a growing literature that points to the success of appearance-focused approaches to skin cancer prevention when grounded in solid psychosocial health theories," Hillhouse and colleagues conclude. "Appearance-focused approaches to skin cancer prevention need to present alternative behaviors as well as alter indoor tanning attitudes."

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