Latin American Anatomists’ views on human body dissection and donation

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Background Studies abound regarding the medical students' views on the importance of anatomy and the dissection of human bodies, but little is known about the views of Latin American Anatomists. Methods A survey was carried out to test several hypotheses among anatomists of the Americas about how they perceive their professional identity, the use and role of dissection in their undergraduate courses, and the approval degree of bequeathing their body for anatomical teaching/research; another goal was ascertaining to what extent their attitude on these topics depended on gender, length of teaching experience and belief in the afterlife. Results One hundred and forty-five anatomists from thirteen Latin American and Caribbean Countries took the survey; 79% stated the main role of an anatomist is teaching; 34% recorded their undergraduate students dissected human cadavers as part of their anatomy lab course—undergraduates dissecting less in the less experienced anatomists’ courses (p = 0.0002). Most anatomists said dissection was a training tool for undergraduate students, a tool for developing professional skills, and a tool to help control emotions—most experienced anatomists stood out from the rest saying dissection is only to teach anatomy (p < 0.001), even if such response was the least valued by them among all replies. Men differed from women in valuing dissection as a tool to help control emotions (p = 0.006); less experienced anatomists held the opposite (p < 0.0001). Approval of a close doctor-patient relationship diverged, being different between the most and the least experienced anatomists (p = 0.01). Anatomists said they would donate only their organs (44%), whole body (9%) and both organs and body (46%). Undecided anatomists about the belief in life after death were the least in favor of donation (p = 0.05).
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