Skin Cancer Communication Project

UPenn researchers are developing and testing campaign messages to reduce indoor and outdoor UV exposure among adults ages 18-49

Project Title: Reducing UV Exposure to Prevent Skin Cancer: Message Development and Testing (SIP 14-018)

Principal Investigators: Karen Glanz and Amy Jordan

Project Coordinator: Sara Grossman

Project Dates: 2014-2017

Most skin cancers are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or from artificial tanning devices. The occurrence of sunburns and practice of indoor tanning are prevalent among adults, especially young adults. However, most skin cancers could be prevented if people would avoid indoor tanning and consistently use effective sun protection, including wearing broad spectrum sunscreen, clothing that covers arms and legs, sunglasses, and finding shade.

Effective health communication through media channels can contribute to skin cancer prevention in important ways, especially if the messages are targeted to specific groups. This research will assess the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of adults aged 18 to 49 years in order to develop effective messages and communication strategies for two categories of skin cancer risk behaviors: indoor tanning and outdoor sun exposure. The messages will be aimed at females aged 18-25 who frequently indoor tan, as well as all adults ages 18-49 who are exposed to the sun outdoors. To this end we will:

  • Conduct formative assessments of attitudes and beliefs related to indoor tanning and outdoor sun exposure among adults ages 18 to 49
  • Translate key findings into the development of a set of core messages aimed at reducing UV exposure
  • Test the effects of the messages on the target audience(s) in terms of affective, physiological, and behavioral outcomes
  • Engage key national organizations for skin cancer prevention to disseminate recommendations and core messages and to leverage their involvement for further development and evaluation of effective skin cancer communications