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.