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An observational study of patients’ attitudes to tattoos and piercings on their physicians: the ART study

Abstract

Introduction Perceptions regarding body art change over time as societal norms change. Previous research regarding patients' perceptions of physicians with exposed body art have been hampered by flaws in design methodology that incorporate biases into patient responses. This study was performed to determine whether emergency department (ED) patients perceived a difference in physician competence, professionalism, caring, approachability, trustworthiness and reliability in the setting of exposed body art.

Methods Standardised surveys about physician competence, professionalism, caring, approachability, trustworthiness and reliability rating providers on a five point Likert scale were administered to patients in an ED after an encounter with a physician provider who demonstrated no body art modification, non-traditional piercings, tattoos, or both piercings and tattoos. Each provider served as their own control. Patients were blinded to the purpose of the survey.

Results Patients did not perceive a difference in physician competence, professionalism, caring, approachability, trustworthiness or reliability in the setting of exposed body art. Patients assigned top box performance in all domains >75% of the time, regardless of physician appearance.

Conclusion In the clinical setting, having exposed body art does not significantly change patients' perception of the physician.

  • dress code
  • patient satisfaction
  • body art

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