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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

A population-based survey on tanning bed use in Germany

Franziska U Börner*, Holger Schütz and Peter Wiedemann

Author Affiliations

Institute of Neurosciences and Medicine, INM-8: Ethics in the Neurosciences, Forschungszentrum Jülich, 52425 Jülich, Germany

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BMC Dermatology 2009, 9:6  doi:10.1186/1471-5945-9-6

Published: 20 July 2009



The suntanning industry has grown up over the last decade in Europe, mainly because tanned skin is considered socially desirable and attractive. Because of the potential negative impact of artificial tanning on public health, this study was to investigate tanning bed use behaviour, UV related risk perception and beliefs about tanning in the German population.


In 2007, a representative telephone survey was carried out among 1501 German residents aged 14 years and older.


More than one fourth (28%) of the German population have used tanning beds at least once before in their lifetime. High-frequency tanning behaviour, i.e. using tanning beds more than 10 times per year, were recorded for 11%. Men and women aged 18 to 44 years and young women under the age of 18 used tanning beds more frequently (>10 times per year). Tanning bed use was positively related to appearance and lifestyle related beliefs as well as to the perception that tanned skin is healthy.


This analysis indicates that tanning bed use is common in Germany. The positive relationships of appearance and health related beliefs with tanning bed use are of great concern. The results indicate underlying misconceptions about the positive effect of artificial UV radiation compared to natural UV radiation particular for high-frequency tanners. The data shows the importance as well as the limitations for risk communication in its current effort to inform effectively about the dangers of artificial UV radiation.