Motivations for Indoor Tanning: Theoretical Models

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This chapter reviews the literature applying health behavior theories to indoor tanning. Few studies have tried to fit full versions of health behavior models to indoor tanning. Theoretical models from the family of theories referred to as the reasoned action approach (e.g., theory of planned behavior, behavioral alternative model, prototype willingness model, etc.) have been most commonly used to study indoor tanning. Results indicate that these models fit indoor tanning data moderately to extremely well. Two lesser known models, problem behavior theory and the terror management health model, have also demonstrated a reasonable fit. Two other common models, the health belief model and social cognitive theory, have never been fully tested with indoor tanning. However, key constructs from these models (e.g., perceived susceptibility and threat, modeling) have been used to understand indoor tanning. Empirical research conducted represents a solid start toward developing strong, comprehensive models of indoor tanning that can guide intervention efforts. This initial work needs to be expanded by conducting longitudinal studies and by including a broader age range in studies because the majority of existing work has focused on young adults. Incorporating findings related to tanning dependency, peer group affiliation, media influences and other constructs into these foundational models will also improve our understanding and ability to develop efficacious interventions to reduce engagement in this health risk behavior.