Perceptions of clients about healthcare professionals (HCP) who have visible body art: a scoping review of the literature
In healthcare, appearance plays a significant role in a patient's first impression of a healthcare worker's competence, compassion, performance, and quality of care. Given that nurses are an essential part of the patient care team, it is imperative for nurses and other healthcare providers to recognize the use of personal expressions such as tattoos while still being able to achieve therapeutic relationships with clients. This scoping review aims to answer the following question: What is known from the existing literature about clients' perceptions about healthcare professionals who have visible body art? Keywords included terms related to body art, healthcare professionals, and to perceptions and understanding. A total of 435 studies published until January 2022 were identified, of which 8 met the inclusion criteria. Out of eight studies included in this review, six identified that body art is negatively associated with patient care, and two found there is no impact on body art and patient perceptions. Additionally, results show that clients attribute a higher degree of professionalism to HCP without visible body art.
Finally, some studies indicate that female HCP with visible tattoos were perceived as being less professional than their male counterparts. It is essential to understand patient perceptions of healthcare professionals with and without body art and determine if appearances can alter the relationship between patient and provider.
Keywords: body art, piercing, healthcare professional, perception, care.
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Emilene Reisdorfer
Authors retain any and all existing copyright to works contributed to these proceedings.