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OVC Prof’s Tanning Salon Research Makes Headlines

Prof. Jennifer McWhirter, Ontario Veterinary College, University of GuelphResearch from Ontario Veterinary College professor Jennifer McWhirter was recently featured in a Canadian Press article that appeared on CTV News, CBC news, the National Post, as well as number of other publications, as well as on CTV Kitchener.

An assistant professor in the Department of Population Medicine at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College, McWhirter focuses her research on the use of effective communication, education, and policy for cancer prevention.

This recent study from McWhirter and her PhD student Jessica Reimann, found that Ontario legislation banning minors from tanning salons until age 18 and mandating health warning signs in salons about the risks of tanning has been largely ineffective due to challenges around enforcement and resources to health units. They also found no fines had been issued by public health units they surveyed. Without fines, there may not be as much incentive to comply with the legislation, McWhirter noted in the interview. 

McWhirter is interested in the dissemination of health information and misinformation and how visual images influence people’s health knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours. Through teaching health communication and health promotion in the Master of Public Health program at OVC, McWhirter instills in the next generation of health promoters how to make health information helpful and the healthy choice the easy choice.

She received her PhD from the University of Waterloo’s School of Public Health and Health Systems. In addition to teaching and research, she also serves as a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Cancer Education and as the co-chair of the Ontario Sun Safety Working Group, an award-wining group known for education, research, and advocacy initiatives in connection to UV radiation and human health.