Date of Award

2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) Honours

School

School of Psychology and Social Sciences

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Paul Chang

Abstract

Millions of people purposefully and dangerously expose themselves to the sun with the aim of attaining tan, especially female adolescents who perceive a tan as attractive. The primary consequence of such exposure is skin cancer as well as premature ageing of the skin which is known as photoaging. Empirical evidence indicates that photoaging photography, which explicitly illustrates the ageing of skin through the use of a UV -filter, as well as photoaging information, contributes to the efficacy of appearance-based health promotion interventions which aim to increase sun protection intentions and behaviours. The present literature review indicates that the effectiveness of using this novel approach has not yet been explored in the Australian female adolescent population. The present paper reviews findings from empirical research concerning sun exposure practices of the Australian populace, the high skin.cancer rates, motivators and intentions of deliberate sun exposure behaviours, age and gender differences, and the benefit of including photoaging information and photographs in health promotion campaigns, with particular focus on adolescent females. A consistent finding across many quantitative studies is that although many people show high levels of knowledge of the dangers of excessive sun exposure, this does not transfer into behaviour, with the desire for a tan far exceeding any concern for one's health, particularly in Australian adolescents. Current research shows, however, that by using fear appeals and vivid health promotion material, these messages personalise the threat of skin cancer and are more persuasive in producing response to skin cancer prevention. The presentation of photoaging photography and information has been found to increase behaviours and intentions to sun protect which holds promise as a way to further increase the success of health messages. This review concludes with an exploration of the implications of these findings. Despite health promotion efforts, health-risk behaviour is still prevalent, especially in female adolescents who purposefully expose themselves to the sun with the aim of getting a tan. The primary motivator of tanning has been found to be appearance-related, as tanned skin is perceived as attractive. Contemporary skin cancer interventions have focused on making the negative appearance consequences of sun exposure more salient through photoaging photography and this approach has been found to be more effective at increasing the adoption of appropriate sun-protective behaviours. The present study examines the effectiveness of a photoaging intervention on attitudes toward sun protection of a female adolescent population. A sample of 66 females aged between 15 and 17 years were randomly assigned to either the photoaging intervention or the educational intervention. The photoaging intervention included photoaging images and information whereas the education intervention did not. The intervention produced significant differences in attitudes across conditions favouring photoaging as an effective strategy for motivating sun protection practices that may reduce skin cancer risk.

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