Youth Access to Indoor Tanning Salons in Urban Versus Rural/Suburban Communities

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Background/Purpose: Research suggests that youth proximity to tanning salons may promote use; however, little is known about tanning salon proximity to schools. We assessed the proximity of tanning salons to schools in urban versus rural/suburban communities across Worcester County, Massachusetts (population > 800K). To put findings in context, we compared school proximity to tanning salons to school proximity to McDonald's restaurants, a large franchise that also caters to young people.

Materials & Methods: Accessibility was measured by ArcGIS 10.2 Network Analyzer (ESRI, Redlands, CA, USA) and the most current road network data layer from Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT).

Results: A total of 145 schools were observed in the study area, of which about 39% of schools were within 1 mile from a tanning salon. Urban schools (53.41%) had a higher proportion within 1 mile of a tanning salon than rural/suburban schools (17.54%; P < .001). More schools (39.31%) were within 1 mile of a tanning salon than schools within 1 mile of a McDonald's (22.70%; P < .001).

Conclusions: Schools may be particularly impactful for implementing skin cancer prevention programing.