Preventing Skin Cancer in College Females: Heterogeneous Effects Over Time

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Objectives: To evaluate the effects of an appearance-focused intervention to reduce the risk of skin cancer by decreasing indoor tanning, examine potential heterogeneity in tanning across this time, and correlate the subtypes with predictors collected at baseline. Design: Randomized controlled trial with 379 female college students measured at 6 monthly time points. Main Outcome Measure: Self-reported indoor tanning frequency. Results: The intervention was effective at decreasing tanning over the period between the fall and spring. Longitudinal latent class analysis found 3 patterns of tann1ers among the treatment individuals: abstainers, moderate tanners, and heavy tanners. These classes appeared in both the treatment and control conditions, and the intervention had a harm reduction effect by reducing levels of exposure within the moderate and heavy tanner classes. Participant age and self-reported tanning patterns were found to be predictive of class membership. Conclusions: This research suggests that brief intervention approaches can be effective at reducing risk for skin cancer and illustrates several ways in which these protective effects can be enhanced.