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Ciência & Saúde Coletiva

On-line version ISSN 1678-4561Print version ISSN 1413-8123


CARONI, Mariana Malheiros  and  GROSSMAN, Eloisa. Perceptions of healthcare providers toward body art: adornment or stigma?. Ciênc. saúde coletiva [online]. 2012, vol.17, n.4, pp.1061-1070. ISSN 1678-4561.

Nowadays, body art is widespread, especially among adolescents. This qualitative study seeks to assess whether the use of body art interferes with how nursing assistants care for hospitalized adolescents and to identify factors that influence the perceptions of these health care providers. Nursing assistants working in an adolescent-specific ward were interviewed. After the analysis, dominant themes emerged from the narratives, allowing for a better understanding of how nursing assistants perceive tattoos and piercing. Some themes were recurrent, especially the association of body art with deviant behavior, erotic appeal, consumerism, courage, health risks, and psychic disorders. Religion and family values prevail over professional knowledge in how body marks are perceived. It may thus be inferred that a negative attitude toward body art is directly related to quality of care. The number of marks, their location, their type, and the definite/temporary character of tattoos and piercing interfere with the providers' interpretation. However, piercing and tattoos are important semiological tools and must be included in the script for the evaluation of adolescents.

Keywords : Tattooing; Body piercing; Adolescent; Nursing aides; Healthcare personnel.

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