Exposure to the ultraviolet rays of indoor tanning increases the risk of melanoma, the fatal form of skin cancer. Despite the risk, young women frequent indoor tanning facilities. Research indicates that protanning social norms are associated with indoor tanning behavior and that an important source of protanning social norms is the mass media. To date, however, little research has investigated how to address the media effects and social norms on indoor tanning. We propose to address this gap in knowledge by evaluating a novel approach to indoor tanning prevention, media literacy interventions (MLIs). In the MLIs, participants will first critically analyze the content and functions of the media influencing protanning social norms (analysis) and on this basis will develop counter-messages to help themselves and peers resist protanning media effects and social norms (production). Furthermore, we will utilize innovative approaches to production: digital story production and digital argument production. By evaluating the efficacy of these novel approaches to production, we seek to improve the current MLIs. In addition to determining the efficacy of MLIs and digital story production, we will examine their cognitive, affective, and social processes. A group-randomized controlled trial will evaluate the efficacy of the MLIs. Participants will be sorority member women (ages 18-24), clustered within their chapters (K=36). We will randomly assign sorority chapters to an MLI with digital story production group (k=12), an MLI with digital argument production group (k=12), and an assessment-only control group (k=12). The interventions will be delivered in October. The two MLIs will be compared against each other and against the control group in indoor tanning rates at 2 months in December, 4 months in February, and at 6 months in April. Mediation analyses will examine the postulated process of intervention effects. If effective, this study could inform future interventions in broad fields about how to use media literacy and participatory production of counter messages to empower community members to resist harmful media effects and social norms.

Public Health Relevance

A critical barrier to reducing rates of melanoma and indoor tanning among young women is the lack of knowledge about ways to address protanning media effects and social norms. We propose to address this void by determining the efficacy of media literacy interventions and participatory production of counter-messages. This study will identify effective strategies to combat harmful media and social normative effects on behaviors.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Community-Level Health Promotion Study Section (CLHP)
Program Officer
Blake, Kelly D
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Purdue University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
West Lafayette
United States
Zip Code
Cho, Hyunyi; Yu, Bing; Cannon, Julie et al. (2018) Efficacy of a Media Literacy Intervention for Indoor Tanning Prevention. J Health Commun 23:643-651
Cho, Hyunyi; Silver, Nathan; Na, Kilhoe et al. (2018) Visual Cancer Communication on Social Media: An Examination of Content and Effects of #Melanomasucks. J Med Internet Res 20:e10501