Risk factors for sun exposure during spring break among college students

Marvin E. Langston, Stephanie G. Lashway, Leslie K. Dennis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In order to look at college students' behavioral practices prior to a sunny vacation (during spring break) along with their beliefs and attitudes, we recruited sororities and fraternities in the Midwestern USA to complete a self-administered questionnaire. Sorority and fraternity students were expected to have high UVR exposure due to a strong desire to tan. The questionnaire included information on sun exposure during spring break, sun-sensitivity, and tanning attitudes and behaviors. Analyses examined associations between potential risk factors for spending 16 or more hours in the sun during spring break using logistic regression while controlling for the clustering effects of sororities and fraternities. Students who tanned mildly were 1.6 times more likely than those with moderate or deep tans to spend 16+ hours in the sun during spring break, suggesting a strong desire to tan. Students who spent 16+ hours in the sun during spring break were more likely to have frequented tanning beds (odds ratio of 2.4 for 11+ times vs. =5 times) and to have used self-tanning creams (odds ratio of 2.9) between New Years and spring break. These data provide evidence that use of artificial tanning devices and self-tanning creams or sprays among college students are related to increased intermittent sun exposure (during a spring break vacation) rather than reduced exposure. Mistaken beliefs regarding a base tan as potentially beneficial need to be addressed by excellent science examining the base tan theory and translated to the public. Replacement of tanning bed use with safer sunless tanning creams may reduce some of the harmful UVR exposures. Education alone will not be sufficient to change sun seeking behavior as was seen here and in other studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSun Exposure
Subtitle of host publicationRisk Factors, Protection Practices and Health Effects
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781634820882
ISBN (Print)9781634820875
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Abbreviations
  • CI = confidence interval
  • OR=odds ratio

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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