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Attitudes and responses of medical sudents and professional anatomists to dissecting different regions of the body

Moxham, Bernard John, Plaisant, Odile, Lignier, Baptiste and Morgan, Susan 2019. Attitudes and responses of medical sudents and professional anatomists to dissecting different regions of the body. Clinical Anatomy 32 (2) , pp. 253-267. 10.1002/ca.23294

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Although there have been many studies assessing emotional responses of medical students to the dissecting room experience, little is known about whether dissecting particular regions of the human body cause more concern than others. Furthermore, no studies have been conducted on the concerns of professional anatomists. In this study, we assessed the hypothesis that medical students are more concerned about the dissection of the face, the perineum and the extremities of the limbs. We also hypothesized that there are gender differences. For the reactions of a group of professional anatomists from the United States and Europe we hypothesized that they were less concerned than the medical students and showed no differences across the regions of the body. The hypotheses were tested by means of questionnaires distributed to medical students at Cardiff University and at the Descartes Paris University who had recently completed their anatomy courses and to anatomists working at universities in Europe and the USA. Ethical approval for the study was obtained from the ethical committees at the Cardiff School of Biosciences and at Paris and all data was obtained by consent of the respondents and remained confidential. The findings were complex, although the level of concern was low overall. Some regional differences were discerned, particularly concerning the face, the perineum, the hand and the female chest. Anatomists were less concerned than the students and female students and female anatomists showed more concern than their male counterparts. Few differences were discerned however between student respondents who had positive and neutral attitudes to gender “politics” and those who espoused negative views. We recommend that, at the start of an anatomy dissection course, time is spent dealing with sensitive issues (including equality and diversity issues), emotional responses, and matters pertaining to mortality. However, we argue that this should not involve hiding regions of the body, nor overreacting to the natural anxiety of students, since doing either of these things could enhance negative reactions and stifle the progress of the student from being a layperson to a competent healthcare professional. Clin. Anat. 32:253–267, 2019. © 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0897-3806
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 1 August 2019
Date of Acceptance: 30 September 2018
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2019 13:19

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