Assessing Undergraduates' Perception of Risks Related to Body Art in Italy: The SUPeRBA Multicenter Cross-Sectional Study

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Sep 1;18(17):9233. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18179233.


Tattooing and piercing may lead to health complications. The present multicenter cross-sectional study aimed to assess awareness and knowledge of health risks related to body art and to identify their possible determinants among a large sample of undergraduates in Italy. A web-based questionnaire collecting information on socio-demographic characteristics, awareness, knowledge, and some potential predictors was administered to undergraduates attending twelve Italian universities. The level of knowledge was expressed as the number of correct answers (0-11 for tattooing, 0-14 for piercing). A total of 2985 participants (mean age 23.15 ± 3.99, 73.9% F) participated in the study. Although 95.4% of the respondents were aware of possible health consequences of body art, a low level of specific knowledge was registered for both tattooing (mean number of correct answers 5.38 ± 2.39) and piercing (5.93 ± 3.12) consequences. Lower knowledge was associated with the attendance of non-life science course and with lower duration of academic education for both tattoo and piercing. Lower knowledge of tattooing risks was related with commuter status, while lower knowledge of piercing risks was associated with lower father's education. These findings highlight the need to enhance information campaigns targeted to youths to increase their awareness of possible health risk of body art.

Keywords: awareness; body art; complications; health; knowledge; piercing; tattooing; undergraduates.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Piercing*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Perception
  • Students
  • Tattooing* / adverse effects
  • Young Adult