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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

East Tennessee Reports on Twitter and Indoor Tanning

Dr. Katie Baker, assistant professor in the department of community and behavioral health, and Mr. Anthony Peluso, a doctoral student in the East Tennessee State University College of Public Health, are co-authors of an article in Translational Behavioral Medicine.  The article, “Content analysis of Twitter chatter about indoor tanning,” analyzed tweets to learn about indoor tanning behavior and attitudes.

[Photo: Dr. Katie Baker]

The research team extracted 4,691 unique tweets from Twitter using the terms “tanning bed” or “tanning salon” over 7 days in March 2016. They analyzed a random selection of 1,000 tweets and determined that 71 percent of tweets were from tanners (n = 699 individuals.)  These posts included tweets expressing positive sentiment about tanning (57 percent), and reports of a negative tanning experience (17 percent), burning (15 percent), or sleeping in a tanning bed (9 percent). Four percent of tweets were by tanning salon employees. Tweets posted by people unlikely to be tanners (15 percent) included health warnings (29 percent) and tweets mocking tanners (71 percent).

[Photo: Mr. Anthony Peluso]

The term “tanning bed” had higher precision for identifying individuals who engage in indoor tanning than “tanning salon”; 77 percent versus 45 percent of tweets captured by these search terms were by individuals who engaged in indoor tanning, respectively. Examining the full data set led to findings that suggest an average of 468 individuals who engage in indoor tanning can be identified by their tweets per day. The majority of tweets were from tanners and included reports of especially risky habits (e.g., burning, falling asleep). The researchers concluded Twitter provides opportunity to identify indoor tanners and examine conversations about indoor tanning.

Lead and additional authors included individuals from the University of Connecticut and the University of Massachusetts.  Translational Behavioral Medicine publishes content that engages, informs, and catalyzes dialogue about behavioral medicine among the research, practice, and policy communities.