Adverse Effects of Tattoos and Piercing on Parent/Patient Confidence in Health Care Providers

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First impressions based on practitioner appearance often form the basis for preliminary assumptions regarding trust, confidence, and competence, especially in situations where patients or family members do not have an established relationship with the physician. Given their growing prevalence, we strove to further investigate whether visible tattoos or piercings on a medical provider affects a patient's perception of the provider's capabilities and their trust in the care that would be provided. A survey using photographs of simulated practitioners was administered to 314 participants split between rural and urban locations. Study volunteers rated tattooed practitioners with lower confidence ratings when compared with nontattooed practitioners and reported greater degrees of discomfort with greater degrees of facial piercing. We concluded that these factors adversely affect the clinical confidence ratings of practitioners, regardless of the gender, age group, or location of participants.

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