In-group rationalizations of risk and indoor tanning: A textual analysis of an online forum

Nick Carcioppolo, Elena V. Chudnovskaya, Andrea Martinez Gonzalez, Tyler Stephan

Unlike other health behaviors, there does not appear to be a strong relationship between perceived skin cancer risk and reduction or cessation of indoor tanning bed use. This study seeks to address this inconsistency by determining how indoor tanning bed users rationalize skin cancer risk with their tanning behavior. Qualitative textual analysis of indoor tanning message board posts (N = 330) revealed varied perceptions of risk, including acknowledging the risk of indoor tanning; denying or downplaying risk, often citing perceived health benefits associated with tanning; blaming outside forces for cancer, such as lotion or genetics; and fatalistic beliefs about cancer. These results highlight the nuanced relationship between perceived skin cancer risk and indoor tanning bed use.

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