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Dissecting the dissectors: Knowledge, attitude, and practice of body bequests by Nigerian anatomists

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Abstract

Anatomy education in most African countries is limited by an insufficient number of cadavers for students to undertake dissection. This already significant shortage is exacerbated by an increasing number of medical schools and students. Virtual dissections are impractical in alleviating such a shortfall in African anatomy education, and further cadaver supply is challenged by unethical and dubious sources. This study was designed to assess the knowledge, attitudes, and practice of whole body and organ donation by Nigerian anatomists with the aim of finding solutions to the problems associated with the availability of cadavers in Nigerian medical schools. Out of 46 anatomists that participated in the survey, only 23.9% would consider donating their whole bodies and 60.9% their organs. More than 95% of respondents did not believe that body bequests could become the sole source of cadavers for anatomic dissection in Nigeria. Age and gender were not statistically significant in the choice of being a body or organ donor. The unacceptability to one's family members regarding body donation was the major reason for respondents' unwillingness to make a whole body donation. None of the 14 medical schools sampled in this study have yet instituted a body registration and donation program. The anatomists showed a high level of knowledge and awareness of body bequest programs, which were not reflected by their attitudes and practice. The authors recommend proactive measures aimed at improving the perception and attitudes of Nigerian anatomists. Anat Sci Educ. © 2012 American Association of Anatomists.

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