Dr. Joel Hillhouse Authors Research Letter for JAMA Dermatology

Dr. Joel Hillhouse

Dr. Joel Hillhouse, Associate Dean for Research and Professor in the East Tennessee State University College of Public Health is lead author on a research letter published June 24, 2015 in JAMA Dermatology. The article, entitled “Prevalence and Correlates of Indoor Tanning in Nonsalon Locations Among a National Sample of Young Women” examines the prevalence and correlates of nonsalon tanning in a nationally representative sample of young women, who have the highest rates of indoor tanning use.  Carter Florence, a doctoral student in the Department of Community and Behavioral Health, is a co-author.

Indoor tanning is a public health threat and the Surgeon General has called for its reduction in adolescents and young adults.  Research on indoor tanning has not distinguished between tanning-only salons vs other businesses and private residences that provide tanning (ie, nonsalon tanning). For example, gyms often offer free tanning, which may lead to riskier tanning habits.  Better understanding of nonsalon tanning could have policy, prevention, and clinical implications. Hillhouse stated,”It could be that use of these locations leads to more risky behavior due to lack of regulations or poor oversight or even lower costs. One concern we have is that as legislative efforts become effective, individuals may move toward these other sources of tanning access”.

The researchers surveyed a nationally representative sample of 823 women aged 18 to 25 years.  Measures included demographics, lifetime indoor tanning use (ever used indoor tanning), current indoor tanning frequency (past 12 months), and indoor tanning location (tanning-only salon or location other than a tanning-only salon). Participants who indicated they tanned at a nonsalon location identified the location as a gym or health club, beauty shop, private home, apartment, or other location. Participants who currently use indoor tanning completed measures of indoor tanning patterns (event or year-round pattern) and indicated whether they used indoor tanning to improve their mood and how difficult it would be to stop using indoor tanning (proxy measure of tanning dependence). History of depression and anxiety were also measured.

Dr. Hillhouse and his team found nonsalon indoor tanning is common with current indoor tanning users (24.6%) and those who have ever used indoor tanning (41.0%). Gyms are the most typical location of nonsalon indoor tanning. Nonsalon indoor tanning users report more depression, tanning dependence, tanning to improve mood, and lifetime tanning. They are also more likely to use indoor tanning year round.

The research letter has been referenced in Reuters Business Insider, Times of Malta and the Northern CalifornianJAMA Dermatology (formerly the Archives of Dermatology) has been in continuous publication since 1882. It began publication by the American Medical Association in 1920 as Archives of Dermatology and Syphilology. The journal publishes material that helps in the development and testing of the effectiveness of diagnosis and treatment in medical and surgical dermatology, pediatric and geriatric dermatology, and oncologic and aesthetic dermatologic surgery. 

"It could be that use of these locations leads to more risky behavior due to lack of regulations or poor oversight or even lower costs. One concern we have is that as legislative efforts become effective, individuals may move toward these other sources of tanning access."

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