Awareness of the risks of artificial tanning influences tanning behavior among college students.
To correlate the prevalence of tanning lamp use, the perceived benefits and risks associated with UV exposure, and knowledge about skin cancer among university students.
A survey was designed and administered to college students seeking "walk-in" care at a university student health center from September 7, 1999, through September 30, 1999.
A large midwestern public university student health center.
Undergraduate and graduate students attending the student health center for any medical condition.
Main Outcome Measure
Completion of the survey.
Of the surveyed students, 47% had used a tanning lamp during the preceding 12 months. Female students were more common users than male students. Of the students surveyed, 39% reported never having used tanning lamps. More than 90% of users of tanning lamps were aware that premature aging and skin cancer were possible complications of tanning lamp use.
Despite adequate knowledge of the adverse effects of UV exposure, university students freely and frequently use tanning lamps, primarily for desired cosmetic appearance. To alter this risky behavior will require a fundamental change in the societal belief that tans are attractive and healthy.