Single article

Golenkov A., Dolgova E., Mikhaylova V.

Attitude of patients and colleagues to a physician with visible body art attributes

Keywords: tattoos, piercing, prevalence, attitude towards the doctor with body art, population, medical students

Currently there is an increase in popularity of body art varieties among young people, including future doctors. The purpose of the work was to study the opinion of population in general and that of medical students about the effect of visible tattoos and piercing on a doctor’s professional image. A total of 400 residents of the town of Cheboksary (133 men and 267 women), aged 16 to 70 (mean age – 38,1±15,7 years old), and 600 students of the Chuvash State University medical faculty (107 young men and 493 girls) (100 people per course) were surveyed. A questionnaire consisting of 10 questions was used. Mathematical-statistical processing was carried out using descriptive statistics and the 2 test. Tattoos and piercings adversely affect the doctor’s image. Trust to such specialists decreases; there appears reluctance to seek assistance with them, since these attributes of body art are associated with manifestations of eccentricity and aggression. Men under 40, senior medical students, respondents with tattoos and piercings were more tolerant to a doctor with visible manifestations of body art. From 3,4 to 9,8% of respondents (men more often than women) had tattoos, from 0,6 to 4,9% (mostly people under 40) had piercings, up to 2% (more often than in population in general) had tattoos and piercings simultaneously. Senior students generally had more body art elements compared to junior students. Tattoos and piercing worsen a doctor’s image and his perception by the population, that is why they should be hidden from the view of patients, so as not to violate the professional dress code and the treatment process.


  1. Balci S., Sari E., Mutlu B. Comparison of risk-taking behaviour and frequency of piercing and tattooing among university students. Pak. Med. Assoc., 2015, Jun., vol. 65, no. 6, pp. 587–592.
  2. Borokhov A., Bastiaans R., Lerner V. Tattoo designs among drug abusers. J. Psychiatry Relat. Sci., 2006, vol. 43, no. 1, pp. 28–33.
  3. Brabant W., Mizer A. Visible body modifications and future employment. Student Research., 2010, vol. IX, pp. 43–58.
  4. Chacha C.E., Kazaura M.R. Body-art practices among undergraduate medical university students in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, 2014. Indian J. Dermatol., 2015, vol. 60, p. 212.
  5. D’Ambrosio A., Casillo N., Martini V. Piercings and tattoos: psychopathological aspects. Activitas Nervosa Superior Rediviva, 2013, vol. 55, no. 4, pp. 143–148.
  6. Deschesnes M., Finès P., Demers S. Are tattooing and body piercing indicators of risk-taking behaviours among high school students? Adolesc., 2006, Jun., vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 379–393.
  7. Friis R., Tilles J. Patient’s preferences for resident physician dress style. Pract. Res. J., 1988, no. 8, pp. 24–31.
  8. Heywood W., Patrick K., Smith A.M., Simpson J.M., Pitts M.K., Richters J., Shelley J.M. Who gets tattoos? Demographic and behavioral correlates of ever being tattooed in a representative sample of men and women. Epidemiol., 2012, Jan., vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 51–56. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2011.10.005.
  9. Gherardi G., Cameron J., West A., Crossley M. Are we dressed to impress? A descriptive survey assessing patients’ preference of doctors’ attire in the hospital setting. Med., 2009, no. 9, pp. 519–524.
  10. Gjerdingen D.K., Simpson D.E., Titus S.L. Patients’ and physicians’ attitudes regarding the physician’s professional appearance. Intern. Med., 1987, vol. 147, pp. 1209–1212.
  11. Johnson S.C., Doi M.L., Yamamoto L.G. Adverse Effects of Tattoos and Piercing on Parent/Patient Confidence in Health Care Providers. Pediatr. (Phila), 2016, Sept., vol. 55, no. 1, pp. 915–920. doi: 10.1177/0009922815616889.
  12. Kluger N. Tattooed people, who are you? Demographic and behavioral characteristics of tattooed individuals. Dermatol. Venereol., 2015, Juny-July, vol. 142, no. 6–7, pp. 410–420. doi: 10.1016/j.annder.2015.03.014.
  13. Kluger N. Epidemiology of tattoos in industrialized countries. Probl. Dermatol., 2015, vol. 48, pp. 6–20. doi: 10.1159/000369175.
  14. Laumann A.E., Derick A.J. Tattoos and body piercings in the United States: a national data set. Am. Acad. Dermatol., 2006, Sept., vol. 55, no. 3, pp. 413–421.
  15. Majori S., Capretta F., Baldovin T., Busana M., Baldo V. Piercing and tatooing in high school students of Veneto region: prevalence and perception of infectious related risk. Prev. Med. Hyg., 2013, Mar., vol. 54, no. 1, pp. 17–23.
  16. Makkai T., McAllister I. Prevalence of tattooing and body piercing in the Australian community. Dis. Intell. Q Rep.,2001, Apr., vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 67–72.
  17. Mason L., Mason J. Patients’ attitudes regarding characteristics of physicians in ophthalmology. BMC Res. Notes., 2017, Dec. 11, vol. 10, no. 1, p. 733. doi: 10.1186/s13104-017-3056-0.
  18. Mayers L.B., Chiffriller S.H. Body art (body piercing and tattooing) among undergraduate university students: “then and now”. J. Adolesc. Health., 2008, Feb., vol. 42, no. 2, pp. 201–203. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2007.09.014.
  19. Mayers L.B., Judelson D.A., Moriarty B.W., Rundell K.W. Prevalence of body art (body piercing and tattooing) in university undergraduates and incidence of medical Mayo Clin. Proc., 2002, Jan., vol. 77, no. 1, pp. 29–34.
  20. Mitchell M.S., Koen C.M. Jr., Darden S.M. Dress codes and appearance policies: challenges under federal legislation, part 3: Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the National Labor Relations Act. Health Care Manag. (Frederick), 2014, Apr.-Juny, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 136–148. doi: 10.1097/HCM.0000000000 000007.
  21. Newman A.W., Wright S.W., Wrenn K.D., Bernard A. Should physicians have facial piercings? Gen. Intern. Med., 2005, Mar., vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 213–218.
  22. Palazzo S., Hocken D.B. Patients’ perspectives on how doctors dress. Hosp. Infect., 2010, Jan., vol. 74, no. 1, pp. 30–34. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2009.08.021.
  23. Sagoe D., Pallesen S., Andreassen C.S. Prevalence and correlates of tattooing in Norway: A large-scale cross-sectional study. J. Psychol., 2017, Dec., vol. 58, no. 6, pp. 562–570. doi: 10.1111/sjop.12399.
  24. Stirn A., Brähler E., Hinz A. Prevalence, sociodemography, mental health and gender differences of tattooing and body piercing. Psychosom. Med. Psychol., 2006, Nov., vol. 56, no. 11, pp. 445–449.
  25. Westerfield H.V., Stafford A.B., Speroni K.G., Daniel M.G. Patients’ perceptions of patient care providers with tattoos and/or body piercings. Nurs. Adm., 2012, Mar., vol. 42, no. 3, pp. 160–164. doi: 10.1097/NNA.0b013e31824809d6.

About authors

Долгова Екатерина Геннадьевна
студентка VI курса медицинского факультета, Chuvash State University, Russia, Cheboksary (; )
Михайлова Валентина Викторовна
студентка V курса медицинского факультета, Chuvash State University, Russia, Cheboksary (; )
Golenkov Andrey V.
Doctor of Medical Sciences, Professor, Head of the Department of Psychiatry, Medical Psychology and Neurology, Chuvash State University, Russia, Cheboksary (; ORCID:

Article link

Golenkov A., Dolgova E., Mikhaylova V. Attitude of patients and colleagues to a physician with visible body art attributes [Electronic resource] // Acta medica Eurasica. – 2018. – №1. P. 9-14. – URL: