Australasian Medical Journal
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
School of Exercise and Health Sciences
Background: Despite two nationwide sun-protection awareness campaigns, young Australian adults continue to sunbathe. Since their primary motivation for tanning is appearance enhancement, it may well be that campaigns that highlight the negative effects of tanning on appearance are more effective than campaigns that emphasise the health risks associated with sun exposure.Aims: This study aims to explore young adults’ reactions to viewing a photoaged photograph of the sun damage already visible in their facial image.Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven females and three males aged 20-30 years. The interview transcripts were transcribed verbatim and were then subjected to Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA).Results: Three themes and eight sub-themes emerged from the analysis. Collectively they revealed that participants’ fear-based reaction to their photoaged photographs triggered in them feelings of unattractiveness, which in turn motivated them to change to their existing sun-tanning behaviours.Conclusion: Although media-popularised representations of suntanned skin being the desired norm were identified as a barrier to skin-protective behavioural change, personalised ultraviolet (UV) photoaged photographs, when accompanied by an explanation of the skin damage that unprotected ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure causes, were effective in changing young adults’ sun-tanning intentions. Hence, a need exists for positive non-tanning appearance-related messages to be incorporated into sun exposure education campaigns.
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