Cindy M. Schorzman, Melanie A. Gold, Julie S. Downs, Pamela J. Murray. Body Art: Attitudes and Practices Regarding Body Piercing Among Urban Undergraduates. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2007;107(10):432–438. doi: 10.7556/jaoa.2007.107.10.432.
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Objective: To describe the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of young adults toward body piercing.
Methods: An anonymous 30-item survey was given to 103 undergraduate students at the campus health service of a large urban university. The questionnaire collected data on students' perceptions regarding the social acceptability of body piercing, their experiences with and attitudes toward this form of body art, and their knowledge of associated health risks.
Results: One hundred (97%) out of the 103 surveys distributed had sufficient data for analysis. Fifty-six percent of participants (age range, 17 to 25 years) reported having a body piercing at one time. Participants with a piercing were more likely to have a tattoo (OR, 4.13; 95% CI, 1.10-15.56; P=.04). The majority of participants (65 [78%]) reported “liking” body piercing on others, though a smaller percentage (45 [52%]) reported “liking” it on themselves (z=3.58, P<.001). Participants estimated the chance of potential health risks as a result of body piercing as follows: bleeding (60%), infection (56%), keloid scarring (43%), bruising (41%), allergic reaction (38%), cyst or tetanus (each 24%), hepatitis B (20%), and human immunodeficiency virus (16%). Nonpierced participants assessed the probability of adverse events as a result of body piercing at 43%, whereas their pierced counterparts estimated the risk at 30% (F1,8314.06, P<.001). Forty-three percent of all participants reported knowing someone (ie, other than themselves) who experienced a health problem as a result of body piercing, though few (10 of 52 [19%]) pierced participants reported similar personal experiences.
Conclusions: Young adults believe that body piercing is highly acceptable among the general public. Furthermore, though they believe such body art is acceptable on others, they feel it is less acceptable on themselves. Study participants displayed a high level of awareness regarding the potential health risks of body art, and, in fact, overestimate those risks. Implications for patient education are addressed.
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