Client Perceptions of Healthcare Professionals (HCP) who have Visible Body Art: A Scoping Review
Background: In healthcare settings, physical appearance plays a significant role in a patient's first impression of a healthcare professional’s competence, compassion, performance, and quality of care. Given that nurses are an essential part of the patient care team, it is imperative for them and other healthcare providers to recognize what the client’s response might be to their use of personal body art (i.e., tattoos, piercings, and designs using skin as a medium), while still achieving therapeutic relationships with clients. Purpose: This scoping review aims to answer the following question: What is known from the existing literature about the clients' perceptions of healthcare professionals (HCP) who have visible body art, including its possible effects on the patient’s perception of patient care. Methods: Electronic databases of PubMed, Medline, PsycINFO, Web of Science, CINAHL, and Scopus were searched to identify studies published until 2022. They were assessed for quality using the Appraisal tool for Cross-Sectional Studies (AXIS) tool. The following stages were followed: identifying the research question, identifying relevant studies, study selection, charting the data, and collating, summarizing, and reporting the results. A total of 435 studies published until January 2022 were identified, of which 8 met the inclusion criteria. Implications: 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 of care. Conclusion: 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.
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