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Keywords:

  • anatomical donor programs;
  • body donation;
  • bequest program;
  • gross anatomy education;
  • chiropractic education;
  • prosections;
  • cadavers;
  • students' attitudes

Cadavers play an important role in anatomy education. In Australia, bodies for anatomy education are acquired only through donations. To gain insight into educational dynamics in an anatomy laboratory as well as to facilitate body donation programs and thanksgiving ceremonies, it is important to understand students' attitudes toward body donation. In this cross-sectional study, the attitudes of Macquarie University's first, second, and fifth year chiropractic students toward body donation were investigated. Macquarie University chiropractic students have a four semester long anatomy program, which includes cadaver-based instruction on prosected specimens. A questionnaire was used to record respondents' demographics and attitudes toward body donation: personal, by a relative, and by a stranger. It was found that ethnicity and religion affect attitudes toward body donation, with Australian students being more willing to donate a stranger's body and atheists and agnostics being more willing to donate in general. Furthermore, willingness to donate one's own or a family member's body decreases as year of study increases, suggesting a possible negative impact of exposure to cadavers in the anatomy laboratory. This was only true, however, after controlling for age. Thus, the impact of viewing and handling prosected specimens, which is the norm in anatomy classes in Australia, may not be as strong as dissecting cadavers. It is suggested that anatomists and educators prepare students for cadaver-based instruction as well as exhibit sensitivity to cultural differences in how students approach working with cadavers, when informing different communities about body donation programs and in devising thanksgiving ceremonies. Anat Sci Educ 7: 117–123. © 2013 American Association of Anatomists.