Health, risk and sunbed use: A qualitative study

Craig D. Murray, Elizabeth Turner

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    A large body of quantitative research has addressed people's sunbathing and artificial tanning behaviour although to date there has not been any qualitative studies on these topics. This study seeks to extend what is known about sunbed use from prior statistically based research by taking a qualitative approach to explore the reasoning which underpins sunbed use. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 18 (nine male and nine female) sunbed users. Interviews transcripts underwent Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, which resulted in the emergence of five themes. These themes revealed varied reasons why participants began using a sunbed. However, continued use was found to be mainly due to a feeling that it enhanced the way participants looked, despite all participants acknowledging that the tan a sunbed produces is not necessarily healthy and carries the risk of skin cancer. Three findings are of particular note: a varied peer element to engaging in and maintaining sunbed use is consistently related by participants; many experienced their tanning behaviour as addictive; and participants were more concerned about the possible aging effects of artificial tanning than the risk of skin cancer. The emergent themes are discussed and compared in the light of previous research, and in terms of theory on 'risk'. © 2004 Taylor & Francis Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)67-80
    Number of pages13
    JournalHealth, Risk and Society
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2004


    • Interpretative phenomenological analysis
    • Qualitative
    • Sunbed
    • Tanning


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