Tattooed Army Soldiers: Incidence, Behavior, and Risk


Name: Myrna Armstrong


Organization: Texas Tech University Health Science Center

Performance Site: Fort Benning, GA; Fort Leonard Wood, MS; Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock, TX

Year Published: 1997

Abstract Status: Final


Primary prevention is a priority for Army Medical Personnel. Despite societal popularity and a long association of tattooing in the military, little is known about the tattooed Army soldier, thus hampering primary health planning. Basic Recruits and Advanced Individual Training students (N = 1,835) completed a questionnaire about any tattooing experiences at one Midwest military installation. Almost half (48%) were serious/very serious about getting a tattoo with 31% stating there were "no reasons" keeping them from getting a tattoo. Over a third of the soldiers (37%) were tattooed, with 22% possessing three or more. Most soldiers (80%) entered the military with the tattoos. Limited use (15%) of alcohol and/or drugs before tattooing was reported. Study findings included a high incidence of tattooing, a strong determination to obtain tattoos, the possession of tattoos for self-identity reasons, and the supportive role of friends. Reported procedural bleeding (76%) potentiates the possibility of bloodborne disease transmission. These results confirm the need for targeted health education programs regarding the safety and potential risks of tattooing.


Final Report is available on NTRL at: