Appraisal and consequences of cadaver dissection

Martin Dempster, A. Black, Noleen McCorry, David Wilson

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Abstract: First exposure to human cadaver dissection has the potential to be an actual stressor which can cause psychological trauma. This study examines the relationship between anatomy students’ experience of this potential stressor and various psychological and personal factors. Questionnaires measuring emotional reactions to cadaver dissection, coping strategies, personality and attitudes to death were administered to anatomy students at two medical schools immediately after their first exposure to human cadaver dissection. Emotional reactions to recalling this experience were assessed 4 months later. Data on these variables were obtained from 141 students. Students found the experience mostly challenging and, on average, did not report serious emotional difficulties. However, a minority of students (10/141) experienced serious adverse consequences. It is possible that the typical student who undertakes an anatomy course is already psychologically prepared for such transactions. However, low cost desensitization programs could be made available for the minority of individuals who may experience adverse reactions in this situation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-16
Number of pages1
JournalMedical Education Online
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2006


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