Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Health Education

First Advisor

Ogletree, Roberta


AN ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION OF DIANE M. LAND, for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Health Education, presented on December 3, 2014, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. TITLE: PSYCHOSOCIAL PREDICTORS OF HIGH SCHOOL ADOLESCENTS' SUN-TANNING AND SUN-PROTECTIVE BEHAVIORS MAJOR PROFESSOR: Dr. Roberta Ogletree Background: The incidence of skin cancer among adolescents and young adults is increasing in the United States (American Cancer Society, 2014). Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure via sun-tanning is considered an important risk factor for development of melanoma. Sun-induced skin damage and sun-tanning habits are initiated in early life and promoted through later sun exposure patterns. Social norms, appearance attitudes, and perceptions of fitness and health attributed to sun-tanned skin and tanning bed usage have been established. The primary aim of this study was to investigate high school adolescents' sun-related attitudes and behaviors through a theoretical framework of psychosocial constructs grounded primarily in Bandura's (1986) Social Cognitive Theory. Assessing the differences in predictors of adolescents' UVR sun-tanning and sun-protective behaviors (including sunless tanning) has the potential to aid in developing age-appropriate strategies to prevent the adoption of sun-tanning habits and reinforce more health enhancing behaviors. Methods: This research study utilized a quantitative, cross-sectional, descriptive research design to assess the attitudes, motivations, and behaviors regarding sun-tanning and sun-protective practices of high school adolescents in rural Southern Illinois. A purposeful sample of 9 - 12th grade students (n = 900) enrolled in physical education class during the fall 2014 semester were invited to complete a self-report paper and pencil survey consisting of 56 Likert-type items and five demographic variables. Results: A total of 156 adolescents received parental permission and completed the survey, providing a 17.3% response rate. Intentional sun-tanning (UVR exposure) continues to be prevalent. Study participants reported sun-tanning more often and had a higher number of sunburns within the past twelve months that in previous national studies. Participants from low socio-economic status (SES) were more likely to outdoor suntan and use sunless tanning lotions, gels or creams than their not low SES counterparts. For sun-tanning behaviors, a significant amount of the variance in mean sun-risk behavior score was explained by the constructs situation, outcome expectations, and value expectancies. Situation, outcome expectations, value expectancies, and self-efficacy were all predictive of outdoor sun-tanning; whereas only outcome expectations were predictive of indoor sun-tanning. Self-efficacy explained a significant proportion of variance in sun-protective behavior mean score. Outcome expectations were predictive of both sunless tanning with lotions, creams or gels and spray tanning product use. Sunless tanning appears to be used as both an additive behavior for those reporting the highest frequency of indoor tanning and a substitution behavior for adolescents who reported never indoor tanning.




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