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Correlates of Positive Parental Attitudes Towards Indoor Tanning
Indoor tanning is a modifiable risk factor for skin cancer, the most common malignancy in the United States. Prior research has shown that parents with favorable attitudes toward indoor tanning are more likely to give their adolescent children permission to indoor tan. However, the factors influencing positive parental attitudes towards indoor tanning remain poorly understood.
We conducted a cross-sectional online survey with a national sample of parents of adolescents (ages 11-17) in 2016 (N= 1,205). We assessed parents’ attitudes using a 10-item questionnaire on the perceived harms and benefits of adolescent indoor tanning. We used multivariable logistic regression to determine demographic and behavioral correlates of perceiving low harms or high benefits of indoor tanning.
Perceiving low harms of adolescent indoor tanning was more common among fathers (OR 1.71, 95% CI 1.35-2.18), parents who themselves used indoor tanning devices (OR 4.47, 95% CI 2.52-7.94), and those who had never received skin cancer prevention counseling from their child’s healthcare provider (OR 1.31, 95% CI 1.03-1.66). Perceiving low harms was also more common among parents of adolescents who: were male (OR 1.28, 95% CI 1.01-1.62), were aged ≥16 year (OR 1.67, 95% CI 1.22-2.28), or had less sun-reactive skin (OR 1.57, 95% CI 1.18-2.09). Perceiving high indoor tanning benefits was similarly associated with parent sex, parent indoor tanning use, and adolescents’ skin reactivity.
This national study identifies populations, such as fathers and indoor tanning users, with more favorable parental attitudes toward adolescent indoor tanning. Targeted education and outreach, including counseling by pediatric healthcare providers, may be needed to make these parents more aware of the harms associated with indoor tanning for adolescents and engage them as partners in skin cancer prevention for youth.