Measuring nonsolar tanning behavior: indoor and sunless tanning

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Adolescent; Adult; *Beauty Culture; Cosmetic Techniques; Female; *Health Behavior; Humans; Interviews as Topic; Male; Mental Recall; Middle Aged; Skin; Skin Pigmentation; Time Factors; *Ultraviolet Rays


Behavioral Disciplines and Activities | Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Preventive Medicine


OBJECTIVE: To develop items to measure indoor tanning and sunless tanning that can be used to monitor trends in population surveys or to assess changes in behavior in intervention studies.

DESIGN: A group of experts on indoor tanning convened in December 2005, as part of a national workshop to review the state of the evidence, define measurement issues, and develop items for ever tanned indoors, lifetime frequency, and past-year frequency for both indoor tanning and sunless tanning. Each item was subsequently assessed via in-person interviews for clarity, specificity, recall, and appropriateness of wording.

SETTING: Universities in Tennessee and Virginia, a medical center in Massachusetts, and a high school in New Hampshire.

PARTICIPANTS: The study population comprised 24 adults and 7 adolescents.

RESULTS: Participants understood indoor tanning to represent tanning from beds, booths, and lamps that emit artificial UV radiation, rather than sunless tanning, even though both can be obtained from a booth. Two items were required to distinguish manually applied from booth-applied sunless tanning products. Frequency of use was easier for participants to recall in the past year than for a lifetime.

CONCLUSIONS: While indoor tanning items may be recommended with confidence for clarity, sunless tanning items require additional testing. Memory aids may be necessary to facilitate recall of lifetime use of nonsolar tanning. In addition, studies that assess reliability and validity of these measures are needed. Since study participants were primarily young and female, testing in other populations should also be considered.

DOI of Published Version



Arch Dermatol. 2008 Feb;144(2):225-30. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Archives of dermatology

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID