Attitudes of Nigerian Medical Students Towards Autopsy


Abstract: The use of autopsy in medical education has been declining although autopsy as an educational experience helps students to correlate clinical findings with basic medical sciences. Students' views in relation to its relevance in medical education are necessary in order to justify its continuous inclusion in medical school curriculum. Two hundred and forty 5th and 6th year medical students who had completed their postings in Anatomical and forensic pathology from two institutions were randomly selected for the study. The students were asked to respond anonymously to a 21 item questionnaire which dealt with their views on the importance of autopsy to medical education, reactions to the first autopsy they watched, attitude towards having autopsy performed on oneself or relative and influence of autopsy on specialization in pathology. Most of the students 232 (97%) agreed on the importance of autopsy in medical education and would even encourage medical students to observe and participate in more autopsies. The majority of the students (93%) felt that autopsy should not be scrapped from the medical school curriculum. Thirty-four percent would not mind autopsy being performed on themselves and 47% would allow it on their relatives. Only a few students agreed to specialise in Pathology (Morbid Anatomy) of whom 8 (4%) were females and 26 (11%) were males. Thirty-six percent of the students would not want to specialise in pathology because it deals with death, while 26% of them would rather specialise in some other field. Five percent of the students felt that pathology is not lucrative. Sixty-three percent of the students were uncomfortable on the first day in the autopsy room compared to the 10% who were comfortable and 14% who were indifferent. The exposure of students to autopsy is important to their medical education since those who are not exposed will not be able to order one in their subsequent years of clinical practice. This is also against the background that in our environment the sophistication in medical diagnosis is lacking.

Keywords: Medical students; Autopsy

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