Prevention Science

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 131–140 | Cite as

A Web-Based Intervention to Reduce Indoor Tanning Motivations in Adolescents: a Randomized Controlled Trial

  • Joel Hillhouse
  • Rob Turrisi
  • Nichole M. Scaglione
  • Michael J. Cleveland
  • Katie Baker
  • L. Carter Florence


Youthful indoor tanning as few as ten sessions can increase the risk of melanoma by two to four times with each additional session adding another 2 % to the risk. Recent research estimates that indoor tanning can be linked to approximately 450,000 cases of skin cancer annually in the USA, Europe, and Australia. Despite these risks, indoor tanning remains popular with adolescents. This study tested the efficacy of a web-based skin cancer prevention intervention designed to reduce indoor tanning motivations in adolescent females. A nationally representative sample of 443 female teens was enrolled from an online panel into a two-arm, parallel group design, randomized controlled trial. Treatment participants received an appearance-focused intervention grounded in established health behavior change models. Controls viewed a teen alcohol prevention website. Outcome variables included willingness and intentions to indoor tan, willingness to sunless tan, and measures of indoor tanning attitudes and beliefs. The intervention decreased willingness and intentions to indoor tan and increased sunless tanning willingness relative to controls. We also examined indirect mechanisms of change through intervening variables (e.g., indoor tanning attitudes, norms, positive and negative expectancies) using the product of coefficient approach. The web-based intervention demonstrated efficacy in changing adolescent indoor tanning motivations and improving their orientation toward healthier alternatives. Results from the intervening variable analyses give guidance to future adolescent skin cancer prevention interventions.


Melanoma prevention Web-based intervention Adolescents Indoor tanning National sample 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Research reported in this manuscript was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under award number R01CA134891. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joel Hillhouse
    • 1
  • Rob Turrisi
    • 2
    • 3
  • Nichole M. Scaglione
    • 2
  • Michael J. Cleveland
    • 3
    • 4
  • Katie Baker
    • 1
  • L. Carter Florence
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Community and Behavioral Health, College of Public Health, The Academic Health Sciences CenterEast Tennessee State UniversityJohnson CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biobehavioral HealthPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  3. 3.Bennett Pierce Prevention Research CenterPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  4. 4.Department of Human DevelopmentWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA

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