Objectives To calculate sunbed use prevalence rates, to investigate the motivations for tanning, and to identify typical target groups for interventions to prevent skin cancer.
Design Cross-sectional, representative, population-based study, primary analysis of the SUN-Study 2012 (Sunbed-Use: Needs for Action-Study).
Setting Nationwide telephone survey of the general population in Germany.
Participants Study participants (n = 4851) aged 14 to 45 years.
Main Outcome Measures Frequency of sunbed use and, if applicable, motivational reasons for use, the location of the most recent use, and the available advisory service. Characteristics of typical sunbed users were identified using logistic regression analysis.
Results The overall prevalence of sunbed use was 39.2% (ever users); 14.6% had used a sunbed within the last 12 months (current users). Among minors and persons with skin types I or II, this proportion was 5.2% and 8.9%, respectively. Positive determinants of current sunbed use (quantified as odds ratios [95% CIs]) were female sex (1.97 [1.64-2.37]), immigrant background (1.46 [1.21-1.77]), and full-time (1.93 [1.53-2.43]) or part-time employment (1.44 [1.11-1.85]). The main motivations for tanning were relaxation and increased attractiveness. Sunbeds were mainly used in tanning studios (74.9%), and many users had never been advised about potential health risks (72.8%).
Conclusions The results of this study emphasize the need for more frequent and higher-quality educational interventions to change tanning behavior, particularly among women, people with darker skin, and those with an immigrant background. Owing to their elevated vulnerability, minors and people with pale skin should also be the focus of such interventions.