Dermatology Marketing Note: Indoor Tanning Could Be an Addiction

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

Dermatologists may need to team with psychologists; patient education isn’t enough.

Interior of tanning bed

Dermatology Marketing for Tanning Addicts

It seems that indoor tanning may be an addiction among college students participating in a study published in Archives of Dermatology and supported by the National Cancer Institute. The results also suggest a relation to anxiety, depression, and substance use among the participants.

There are several healthcare issues of interest to dermatology marketing professionals. Of course there is the long-standing association between tanning (indoor or outdoor) and increased rates of skin cancers.

In this study some individuals—over 30 percent—crave the indoor tanning experience to the degree that it qualifies as an addiction. And among students who met DSM-IV-TR and CAGE criteria for addiction to indoor tanning reported greater symptoms of anxiety and greater use of alcohol, marijuana, and other substances than others.

The further insight for dermatology marketing is the indication that being informed of the risk did not change the addictive behavior. Nearly all of the tanning addicts (98 percent) thought indoor tanning can cause skin cancer.

According to the researchers: “If associations between affective factors and indoor tanning behavior are replicated, results suggest that treating an underlying mood disorder may be a necessary step in reducing skin cancer risk among those who frequently tan indoors.”

ABSTRACT: Archives of Dermatology; Mosher C, et al “Addiction to indoor tanning: Relation to anxiety, depression, and substance use” Arch Dermatol 2010; 146: 412-17.

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.

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