Melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, has a rapidly rising incidence and mortality rate and is now the sixth most common cancer in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that 68,000 cases were diagnosed and 8,700 individuals died from melanoma in the U.S. in 2010, an average of 8 diagnoses and 1 death every hour. Epidemiological research has shown a link between use of artificial ultraviolet indoor tanning beds and risk of melanoma and the International Research Agency for Cancer recently classified indoor tanning beds as carcinogenic to humans. Despite being generally aware of the increased risk of skin cancer associated with the use of indoor tanning, the behavior remains popular among young adult women. Studies have found prevalence rates of past year indoor tanning use to be as high as half of young women sampled. Although it is well established that young women often engage in indoor tanning to enhance their physical appearance, sociocultural influences on indoor tanning, such as media and indoor tanning industry influences, have been relatively understudied. Specifically, we will use constructs from Body Objectification Theory to determine if young women's perceptions of the portrayal of tanning and IT use by women in the media (i.e., movies, advertising) influence how they feel about their bodily appearance and ultimately their IT behaviors. The current proposal utilizes a mixed methods approach.
The first aim of the proposal is to establish the importance of Body Objectification Theory constructs on indoor tanning by conducting a series of focus groups with indoor tanning users.
The second aim i s to use survey research to empirically evaluate a theoretical model of indoor tanning behavior that incorporates constructs identified as important in the first aim. A better understanding of indoor tanning behavior is critical for the development of novel interventions designed to reduce indoor tanning behaviors and achieve a public health goal of reducing incidence of future skin cancers.
Several studies have demonstrated an association between the increasing use of artificial ultraviolet indoor tanning beds by young adult women and increasing rates of skin cancer, including melanoma. The goal of the proposed research is to use focus group and survey methods to examine understudied social motivations for engaging in indoor tanning among young women. Studies of these motivations are critical for the development of novel interventions designed to reduce indoor tanning behavior and achieve a public health goal of reducing incidence of future skin cancers.
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