Project Title: Reducing UV Exposure to Prevent Skin Cancer: Message Development and Testing 

 Principal Investigators: Karen Glanz and Amy Jordan

 Project Coordinator: Caroline La Rochelle

 Project Dates: 2014-2019


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 assessed 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 were 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. In this study we:


  • Conducted formative assessments of attitudes and beliefs related to indoor tanning and outdoor sun exposure among adults ages 18 to 49
  • Translated key findings into the development of a set of core messages aimed at reducing UV exposure
  • Tested the effects of the messages on the target audience(s) in terms of affective, physiological, and behavioral outcomes
  • Engaged 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