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J Psychosom Res. 2006 May;60(5):531-4.

Prevalence of tattooing and body piercing in Germany and perception of health, mental disorders, and sensation seeking among tattooed and body-pierced individuals.

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, JW Goethe University Hospital, Heinrich Hoffmann Strasse 10, 60528 Frankfurt am Main, Germany.



The objective of this study was to obtain data on the incidence and relationship of psychological factors to tattooing and body piercing from a large and representative sample of German citizens (N=2043).


Representative data (sample age range=14-93 years) were evaluated with respect to health-related quality of life (SF-36), mental health (General Health Questionnaire), mental disorders (Patient Health Questionnaire), and sensation seeking (Arnett Inventory of Sensation Seeking).


The prevalence of tattooing and that of body piercing in the general German population are 8.5% and 6.5%, respectively. Individuals aged between 14 and 24 years display the highest rate of body piercings or tattoos (females, 41%; males, 27%). Within the group of individuals aged between 14 and 44 years, unemployment and nonaffiliation to a church are positively correlated, tattooing is significantly correlated with the perception of reduced mental health, and both tattooing and body piercing are correlated with significantly increased sensation-seeking behavior.


Next to being motivated by fashion and the urge to fit in with one's peers, the major reasons for body modification practices in the German population appear to be negatively perceived conditions of life, reduced social integration, and increased sensation-seeking behavior.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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