Does the awareness of the health risks from tanning differ in an 18- 30 year-old age group compared to a 31-55 year-old age group?

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Keck, Shane A.
Bunton, Patricia A.

Keck Shane A. & Patricia Bunton.(2007). Does the awareness of the health risks from tanning differ in an 18- 30 year-old age group compared to a 31-55 year-old age group? In Proceedings : 3rd Annual Symposium : Graduate Research and Scholarly Projects. Wichita, KS : Wichita State University, p.113-114


Indoor and outdoor tanning are popular activities in American culture. However, over-exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is of considerable concern for public health. This study compared the perceptions of the harmful effects of tanning, as well as attitudes and behaviors, between two age groups. Results may be helpful in determining the need for continuing education in our communities and schools and encouraging public policy regarding tanning bed use. Methodology: A 29-item survey was designed and administered to a sample of Wichita State University students. Data was analyzed using Chi-Square and compared responses of the two age groups, as well as between genders. The sample size included one hundred and nine 18-30 and forty-one 31-55 year-old college students. There were 104 females and 46 males. Results: An association was found between age and 1) whether most of their friends try to get a tan; 2) whether they only wear sunscreen when someone tells them to; 3) whether they felt good about wearing sunscreen in the summer months; 4) knowledge that those with light colored eyes and blonde hair are at greatest risk. In general, females feel good about wearing sunscreen, agree that getting even one sunburn can increase one’s risk of skin cancer and disagree that the risk of skin cancer is low in tanning salons compared to males in the study. Conclusions: Data suggests that young people may engage in risky behavior because other young people are engaging in that same behavior, only wear sunscreen when told to, and feel less comfortable wearing sunscreen to protect themselves from UV radiation than older adults. Because this study had a small sample size, with more than twice the number of 18-30 year-olds completing the survey than 31-55 year-olds, caution should be used in generalizing the results. Further research should attempt to include a larger number of participants, with study groups being similar in number, gender and ethnic background. Geographical differences could also be studied.

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Paper presented to the 3rd Annual Symposium on Graduate Research and Scholarly Projects (GRASP) held at the Hughes Metropolitan Complex, Wichita State University, April 27, 2007.
Research completed at the Dept. of Physician Assistant, College of Health Professions