• Article

Development of interventions to reduce adolescent use of indoor tanning: The Talking Tanning and Teens study

Background: Use of indoor tanning devices has been associated with a range of adverse effects including burns, corneal damage, premature wrinkling, as well as melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. Indoor tanning is a common behavior among females and many begin use during adolescence. Interventions that target teens and parents to decrease use are lacking.
Aims: This project is a collaboration between HealthPartners (HP) and the University of Minnesota (UofM) to develop materials to encourage parent- teen communication about indoor tanning.
Methods: Adolescents 14–16 years (tanners and non-tanners) and parents of teenagers this age were recruited to participate in focus groups on indoor tanning. The following recruitment strategies were used:
- Fliers posted in HP clinics,
- notices in HPs online employee newsletter and intranet,
- flier included with earnings statement to employees (n=2600),
- fliers posted on UofM campus,
- advertisements in three community newspapers,
- targeted mailing (followed by phone invitation) to 528 households identified via health plan administrative data
- targeted postcard mailing (n=1000) to UofM employees,
- recruitment through high schools (health education teachers, invitation to parents, cafeteria recruitment table).
Results: Recruitment strategies 1–5 yielded 30 inquiries and six parent and six teen participants. Strategy 6 yielded four parent and four teen participants; of the 528 households targeted, 68% could not be reached by phone with one attempt, 11% had nonworking phone numbers, 15% refused participation (not interested in topic), 2% stated their teens did not tan and 1% could not attend dates offered. Strategy 7 yielded eight inquiries for the study. Strategy 8 yielded four teen groups (Ns of 6 boys, 2 girls, 6 girls, 7 boys). Invites to parents via schools produced two phone inquiries.
Conclusions: Recruitment was much more difficult than anticipated, requiring eight different approaches. Our original plan of conducting six focus groups (total of 60 participants), ended up with six teen groups (n=31) and two parent groups (n=10). When conducting studies that rely on patient recruitment of a small subsample of the population and for which an interest in the topic is unknown, adequate time, energy and resources should be devoted to recruitment efforts.


Rolnick, C. J., Jackson, J., Lazovich, D., Choi, K., Southwell, B., & Forster, J. (2010). Development of interventions to reduce adolescent use of indoor tanning: The Talking Tanning and Teens study. Clinical Medicine & Research, 8(1), 32. https://doi.org/10.3121/cmr.8.1.32-a

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