||5R21CA226133-02 Interpret this number
||University Of Connecticut Storrs
||Using a Narrative-Based Approach to Reducing Indoor Tanning
Indoor tanning is a major preventable risk factor for melanoma, the deadly form of skin cancer and now the #1
cancer in women ages 25-29. The Surgeon General's 2014 Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer emphasizes
the need to reduce indoor tanning by developing and disseminating tailored messages to high-risk populations.
Social media may be a powerful means to reach tanners given tanners are young adults and use social media
at higher rates than nontanners. Although social media have the capacity to reach users with health
messaging, not all users are persuaded by health messages. Recent work has revealed that tanners are aware
that tanning increases risk for skin cancer. For many, the immediate benefits of tanning (e.g., physical
appearance) override concerns about long-term consequences (e.g., cancer). Messages that increase the
salience of the immediate negative consequences of indoor tanning might be more effective at changing
behavior. We content-analyzed 1000 tweets about indoor tanning and discovered that 31% of tweets by
tanners described negative experiences at the tanning salon (e.g., painful burns, deceptive salon practices,
unsanitary conditions, peeping Toms). Frequent exposure to peer reports of negative experiences might shift
perceptions about the desirability of tanning. Tweets are brief, narratives about everyday experiences and thus
may be useful in behavioral interventions. Transportation theory suggests that when people identify with
characters in a story, beliefs, attitudes, and behavior can be affected. We propose to develop a social media
intervention that is comprised of peer-generated social media content about 1) negative experiences with
indoor tanning, 2) positive reactions to quitting tanning, and 3) positive experiences using tanning alternatives.
To inform the intervention, we will extract and content analyze tanners' tweets about their experiences to
identify narrative content for the intervention. We will use social marketing theory and a user-centered design
approach to develop a social media feed that tanners find interesting and persuasive. We plan to connect to
audience values by embedding the intervention in a feed based on a topic that tanners tell us they value (e.g.,
beauty). Intervention messages about indoor tanning will be peppered throughout but presented in a way that
is relevant to the theme topic. To identify topics of high interest to tanners we will content analyze topics they
share on social media and then conduct focus groups of tanners to provide deeper perspective, pre-test
intervention messages, and obtain consensus on the feed moderator persona (e.g., peer), an engagement
strategy, and preferred social network platform (e.g., Instagram, Facebook) for the intervention. Finally, we will
conduct a pilot feasibility trial to evaluate an 8-week social media-delivered intervention relative to a similar
feed with no tanning related content. We will conduct a preliminary test of transportation theory by examining
the intervention's effect on persuasive impact and beliefs about the desirability of indoor tanning. This work will
inform a randomized trial testing the efficacy of this intervention on tanning and message dissemination.
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