Degree Name

DrPH (Doctor of Public Health)


Public Health

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Joel J. Hillhouse

Committee Members

Robert Pack, Amal Khoury


Indoor tanning (IT) before the age of 35 increases one’s risk for melanoma by 75%, and epidemiological data show a 6.1% annual increase in the incidence of melanomas in white women younger than age 44 in the US. Population-based studies reveal that 15% of adolescents and 8% to 14% of their primary caregivers have engaged in IT in the past year.

The compelling case for IT being a significant risk factor for melanoma, together with the high rates of IT in teen girls and their mothers, provided a strong rationale for conducting an antitanning intervention directed at mother-daughter dyads. This study evaluated a strategy designed to prevent skin cancer in adolescent girls by using mothers as change agents to effectively communicate the risks of IT and to encourage teens to avoid high risk IT behaviors.

Mother-daughter dyads were recruited over the telephone, randomly assigned to the intervention or control group, and surveyed on IT risk constructs including tanning-specific knowledge and communication.

Forty-two mother-daughter dyads completed baseline surveys in the summer of 2012. Mothers in the intervention group were given a handbook educating them on the dangers of IT and how to convey information about skin cancer prevention to their daughters and encouraged to talk with their daughters about the issues covered in the handbook over a 1-month period. Participants completed follow-up assessments in October 2012 and January 2013.

Among teens, past 3-month IT frequency, intentions, and willingness decreased in intervention group teens, while intentions and willingness increased among control teens. Intervention teens exhibited lower IT attitudes and higher levels of perceived susceptibility to appearance damage and health effects from IT when compared to control teens. Intervention teens reported higher levels of maternal monitoring and lower levels of maternal permissiveness toward IT.

Qualitative data indicated mothers responded positively to the handbook, and it encouraged tanning-specific discussions with their daughters. Mothers provided suggestions on how to improve the handbook, that once incorporated, should lead to improved intervention efficacy. Overall, study results indicated this intervention strategy is feasible, as mothers did communicate with their teens and were able to convey the antitanning messages.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.