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J Am Acad Dermatol. 1993 Dec;29(6):959-62.

A survey of attitudes, beliefs, and behavior regarding tanning bed use, sunbathing, and sunscreen use.

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Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.



Although cosmetic tanning and unprotected solar exposure are common, little is known about general attitudes, beliefs, and behavior regarding sunbathing, sunscreen use, and tanning salon use.


We sought to determine the frequency of UV exposure in a select sample and to assess the knowledge and beliefs of the effects of UV irradiation.


A written, anonymous questionnaire was distributed to a sample of 477 persons in a shopping mall, at a social gathering, and on a vacation cruise ship. The instrument explored demographic information, sunscreen use, sunbathing habits, tanning bed use, and cutaneous solar effects.


Forty-two percent of respondents seldom or never used sunscreen, and 33% sunbathed at least once a week. Although the three sample populations differed in education, sunbathing habits, sunscreen use, and tanning bed use, they were equally informed about UV light hazards. Compared with those who had not used tanning beds, tanning bed users were more likely to be female and more knowledgeable about the long-term effects of UV. Tanning beds were most commonly used in tanning or hair salons, (mean 23 +/- 7 minutes at 2.3 +/- 1.1 times per week). Reported positive psychologic sequelae from tanning bed use were more common than negative physical sequelae. At least 10% would continue to use tanning beds if these were proved to cause skin cancer.


In this select sample, sunbathing and tanning bed use were common. No group surveyed universally practiced sun protection and avoidance. Clientele of tanning beds may be aware of the damaging effects of the sun, but may not be aware that tanning bed use is associated with skin damage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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