Authors: Flannery C, Burke LA, Grainger L, Williams P, Gage H
Ir J Med Sci. 2016 Nov;185(4):887-893
BACKGROUND: Despite Ireland's temperate maritime climate, it has the third highest rate of malignant melanoma in the European Union, indicating the need to recognise tanning practices as a risky behaviour, especially amongst those most at risk (the younger population).
AIM: To explore the factors associated with deliberate sun tanning amongst university students in Cork, Ireland.
METHODS: Self-reported sun exposure, attitudes to tanning and sun protection practices were investigated using an online questionnaire in April 2010.
RESULTS: There were 833 responses (8.33Â %), mean age 22Â years, 75Â % female. Reporting deliberate tanning in the previous summer (nÂ =Â 389, 46.7Â %) was positively correlated (rÂ =Â 0.622, pÂ <Â 0.001) with stating an intention to tan next summer (nÂ =Â 532, 63.9Â %). Women and respondents with darker (vs. fairer) complexion were more likely to engage in deliberate tanning (pÂ <Â 0.001). Deliberate tanning was associated with reporting enjoying tanning (pÂ <Â 0.001), with reporting peer pressure into tanning (pÂ =Â 0.039), and (marginally) with thinking it is worth getting burnt to get a tan (pÂ =Â 0.068). Younger students were significantly more likely to report these attitudes; being a current smoker was associated with reporting peer pressure and that burning is worth a tan, indicating a level of risk-taking. Respondents reported (average) three sources of information on sun risks.
CONCLUSION: Tanning is a form of strongly motivated risk-taking as much in a sun-limited country like Ireland as in hotter sun-rich climates. Risk communication strategies on sun exposure should be developed that target young people and improve their risk awareness.