Original Research

Factors Influencing Patient Preferences for Phototherapy: A Survey Study

Author and Disclosure Information

There is limited literature regarding patient preferences for phototherapy. Patients may consider different forms of phototherapy depending on a multitude of factors important to them, including safety, cost, efficacy, insurance issues, and convenience. This study aimed to determine which form of phototherapy—in-office UVB, at-home UVB, home tanning, salon tanning, and sunbathing—was preferred by survey participants and the reasons for their preferences. Additionally, participants were asked which forms of phototherapy they considered safest and most efficacious, cost-effective, and convenient.

Practice Points

  • Patients have different priorities when selecting phototherapy, including safety, costs, effectiveness, insurance issues, and convenience.
  • By offering and educating patients on all forms of phototherapy, dermatologists may help guide patients to their optimal treatment plan according to patient priorities.



Phototherapy—particularly UVB phototherapy, which utilizes UVB rays of specific wavelengths within the UV spectrum—is indicated for a wide variety of dermatoses. In-office and at-home UVB treatments commonly are used, as are salon tanning and sunbathing. When selecting a form of phototherapy, patients are likely to consider safety, cost, effectiveness, insurance issues, and convenience. Research on patient preferences; the reasons for these preferences; and which options patients perceive to be the safest, most cost-effective, efficacious, and convenient is lacking. We aimed to assess the forms of phototherapy that patients would most consider using; the factors influencing patient preferences; and the forms patients perceived as the safest and most cost-effective, efficacious, and convenient.


Study Participants—We recruited 500 Amazon Mechanical Turk users who were 18 years or older to complete our REDCap-generated survey. The study was approved by the Wake Forest University institutional review board (Winston-Salem, North Carolina).

Evaluation—Participants were asked, “If you were diagnosed with a skin disease that benefited from UV therapy, which of the following forms of UV therapy would you consider choosing?” Participants were instructed to choose all of the forms they would consider using. Available options included in-office UV, at-home UV, home tanning, salon tanning, sunbathing, and other. Participants were asked to select which factors—from safety, cost, effectiveness, issues with insurance, convenience, and other—influenced their decision-making; which form of phototherapy they would most consider along with the factors that influenced their preference for this specific form of phototherapy; and which options they considered to be safest and most cost-effective, efficacious, and convenient. Participants were asked to provide basic sociodemographic information, level of education, income, insurance status (private, Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Affairs, and uninsured), and distance from the nearest dermatologist.

Statistical Analysis—Descriptive and inferential statistics (χ2 test) were used to analyze the data with a significance set at P<.05.


Five hundred participants completed the survey (Table 1).

Sociodemographic Data of Participants

Factors Influencing Patient Preferences—When asked to select all forms of phototherapy they would consider, 186 (37.2%) participants selected in-office UVB, 263 (52.6%) selected at-home UV, 141 (28.2%) selected home tanning, 117 (23.4%) selected salon tanning, 191 (38.2%) selected sunbathing, and 3 (0.6%) selected other. Participants who selected in-office UVB as an option were more likely to also select salon tanning (P<.012). No other relationship was found between the UVB options and the tanning options. When asked which factors influenced their phototherapy preferences, 295 (59%) selected convenience, 266 (53.2%) selected effectiveness, 220 (44%) selected safety, 218 (43.6%) selected cost, 72 (14.4%) selected issues with insurance, and 4 (0.8%) selected other. Forms of Phototherapy Patients Consider Using—When asked which form of phototherapy they would most consider using, 179 (35.8%) participants selected at-home UVB, 108 (21.6%) selected sunbathing, 92 (18.4%) selected in-office UVB, 62 (12.4%) selected home-tanning, 57 (11.4%) selected salon tanning, 1 (0.2%) selected other, and 1 participant provided no response (P<.001).

Reasons for Using Phototherapy—Of the 179 who selected at-home UVB, 125 (70%) cited convenience as a reason. Of the 108 who selected salon tanning as their top choice, 62 (57%) cited cost as a reason. Convenience (P<.001), cost (P<.001), and safety (P=.023) were related to top preference. Issues with insurance did not have a statistically significant relationship with the top preference. However, participant insurance type was related to top phototherapy preference (P=.021), with privately insured patients more likely to select in-office UVB, whereas those with Medicaid and Medicare were more likely to select home or salon tanning. Efficacy was not related to top preference. Furthermore, age, gender, education, income, and distance from nearest dermatologist were not related to top preference.


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