Health Chat Presentation for NCI

Health Chat Presentation for NCI

Dr. David Buller from Klein Buendel presented initial findings from an ongoing social media campaign for mothers to improve adolescent health and reduce indoor tanning, called Health Chat, via webinar to the Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch of the National Cancer Institute on December 10, 2019.

Despite the substantial risk of skin cancer from indoor tanning, it remains popular among older adolescent females aged 14-17 and mothers aged 27-45. The CDC1 and the Surgeon General2 have set a national goal of reducing indoor tanning by teens and public policies restricting indoor tanning are increasing. However, many states still allow minors to indoor tanning, with varying forms of restriction.3 

Because mothers’ permissiveness of indoor tanning and her own indoor tanning are strong predictors of adolescent daughters indoor tanning, and many daughters initiate indoor tanning with their mother, the research team developed a program aimed at moms in an effort to reduce indoor tanning by minors. A multi-faceted adolescent health and wellness campaign was created to be delivered through Facebook private groups that included messages on indoor tanning prevention, prescription drug misuse, vaccinations, healthy lifestyles, substance use, mother-daughter communication, and more. Mothers (n=869) were in the groups for one year and received messages daily. Mothers and their daughters completed surveys at baseline and 12-month follow-up, and 18-month follow-up surveys are currently underway.

Dr. Buller reported on how the Health Chat program was created, the potential of using social media for research, campaign engagement measures, and initial findings from the 12-month follow-up survey of mothers and daughters. He shared methodological challenges that arose from using Facebook private groups such as Facebook algorithms changing, the inability for participants to share content outside of the groups, and logistical barriers of adding participants to groups. He also shared plans for coding user-generated content,4 including hundreds of comments left by mothers on the Facebook posts. Full results should be published in 2020.

This research was funded by a grant to Klein Buendel from the National Cancer Institute [CA192652; Dr. David Buller and Dr. Sherry Pagoto (from the University of Connecticut), Multiple Principal Investigators]. Co-Investigators include Dr. Katie Baker and Dr. Joel Hillhouse from East Tennessee State University, and Dr. Kimberly Henry from Colorado State University.


1. Healthy People 2020 – topics & objectives. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Web site. Available at: Published 2012. Accessed December 17, 2019.

2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General; 2014.

3. National Conference of State Legislatures. Indoor tanning restrictions for minors: A state-by-state comparison. National Conference of State Legislatures Web site. Available at: Published May 20, 2019. Accessed December 17, 2019.

4. Buller D, Walkosz B, Berteletti J, et al. Insights on HPV vaccination in the United States from mothers’ comments on Facebook posts in a randomized trial. Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2019;15(7-8):1479-1487. doi: 10.1080/21645515.2019.1581555

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