International Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 299–314

Exploring the development of sun-tanning behavior: A grounded theory study of adolescents’ decision-making experiences with becoming a sun tanner

  • Jean A. Shoveller
  • Chris Y. Lovato
  • Richard A. Young
  • Barbara Moffat

DOI: 10.1207/S15327558IJBM1004_2

Cite this article as:
Shoveller, J.A., Lovato, C.Y., Young, R.A. et al. Int. J. Behav. Med. (2003) 10: 299. doi:10.1207/S15327558IJBM1004_2


A grounded theory study was undertaken to describe how adolescents make decisions about sunbathing during the transition from childhood to adolescence and to propose an explanation for the relationships among factors affecting the adoption of sun tanning. In-depth interviews (n = 40) were conducted separately with adolescents (aged 12 to 16 years) and their parents. Constant comparative analysis of adolescents’ accounts identified two methods that adolescents described as a means of getting a suntan: intentional sun tanning and incidental sun tanning. The process of adolescents’ decision-making about getting a suntan can be understood by examining the following sequence: becoming motivated to get a tan, experimenting with sun tanning, and establishing self as an intentional tanner or incidental tanner. Implications for developing strategies to prevent the adoption of sun-tanning habits among adolescents are presented.

Key words

adolescent healthskin cancer prevention

Copyright information

© International Society of Behavioral Medicine 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean A. Shoveller
    • 1
  • Chris Y. Lovato
    • 2
  • Richard A. Young
    • 3
  • Barbara Moffat
    • 4
  1. 1.UBC Department of Health Care and EpidemiologyVancouverCanada
  2. 2.UBC Department of Health Care and Epidemiologythe National Cancer Institute of CanadaCanada
  3. 3.UBC Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology and Special EducationCanada
  4. 4.UBC Department of Health Care & EpidemiologyCanada
  5. 5.Department of Health Care and EpidemiologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada