Attitudes of anatomy students towards commemorations for body donors: a multicultural perspective

Joyce El-Haddad*, Tania Prvan, Goran Štrkalj

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)
    18 Downloads (Pure)


    Many medical schools practice commemorative ceremonies to honor body donors. Attitudes of medical education stakeholders toward these ceremonies have not yet been fully investigated. The aim of this study was to explore anatomy students' attitudes toward commemorations at a multicultural institution which has not introduced these ceremonies yet. A survey was carried out on different groups of anatomy students that were exposed and not yet exposed to human remains. The survey was used to record basic demographic data from the respondents, ask if they would support the establishment of an anatomy commemoration and in which format. A total of 756 anatomy students participated in the survey (response rate 69.8%). The majority (76.3%) were in favor of introducing a commemoration for donors. The associations of students' gender, attitude toward body donation, and level of exposure to human remains with attitudes toward commemoration for donors were identified (P < 0.05), whereas ethnicity and religion seemed to have no influence on attitudes (P > 0.05). Most students believed that anatomy staff and students should organize the commemoration. There was a preference for the commemoration to be secular with revealed identities of donors, and not recorded for social media. The support for the establishment of commemorations transcended cultural and religious differences and confirmed students' respectful attitude toward donors. Anatomy commemorations seem to have potential not only to engage students with one another, and donor families, but also to pave the way for students to become life-long ethical and empathetic learners and practitioners.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)89-98
    Number of pages10
    JournalAnatomical Sciences Education
    Issue number1
    Early online date7 Jul 2020
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


    • anatomical gifting
    • anatomy education
    • body donation
    • commemorations
    • gross anatomy education
    • medical education
    • memorials


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