Tanning Bed Motivations Studied
October 17, 2012

What Motivates People To Use Tanning Beds And Why

Alan McStravick for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Earlier this month, I wrote on tanning bed use and its culpability in the rise of skin cancer rates, especially among certain age and gender groups. The carcinogenic nature of tanning beds is derived from exposure to UV radiation (UVR) which is one of the main risk factors for developing skin cancers. A new study out of Germany wants to go more in-depth in researching individual groups that are more motivated to use tanning beds and the reasoning for it.

Sven Schneider, PhD, MA, of the Mannheim Institute of Public Health, Social and Preventive Medicine, Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany, along with colleagues, sought to determine rates for tanning bed use, investigate motivations for tanning and identify targets for interventions to prevent skin cancer. Their study focused on 4,851 individuals, ranging in age from 14 to 45 years of age, comprised of 50.9 percent men. Their data was collected via a nationwide telephone survey of the general German population.

Their findings suggest the overall prevalence of tanning bed use was that nearly 40 percent of participants had, at least once, used a tanning bed. Additionally, they found that 14.6 percent of respondents had used a tanning bed in the last 12 months. Their study is published online in the journal Archives of Dermatology, a JAMA Network publication.

"The prevalence of ever use of sunbeds among the 14- to 45-year-olds in Germany was 39.2 percent, and every seventh person in this age group had used a sunbed during the last 12 months. A particularly large percentage of women, adolescents, immigrants and the employed reported using solariums," the authors comment.

Women, by a large margin,(49 percent compared to 29.8 percent) were found to be more likely to have ever used a tanning bed than a man was. This held true among respondents who admitted having used a tanning bed in the last twelve months, (17.7 percent vs. 11.7 percent) though by a narrower margin. The team was also able to determine that respondents with skin type III to VI were more likely to have used tanning beds than those respondents who have paler skin. Additionally, respondents with an immigrant background were significantly more likely to be currently using a tanning bed. The primary motivations for tanning bed use given were relaxation and attractiveness, according to the study results.

"The present study presents target groups for future interventions: For example, such interventions could target occupations in which predominantly younger women work because the group of working women are particularly likely to use sunbeds. Furthermore, the relationship between current sunbed use and immigrant background indicates a specific need for the education of this population subgroup," the authors conclude.

As addressed in my previous writing on this topic, the Mannheim researchers also suggest their study findings emphasize the need for a formal, standardized education of tanning salon personnel by independent institutions that are in no way associated with the tanning bed industry. The current study´s authors note that personnel often fail to inform tanning bed users that their motivations for tanning are not medically sound.