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Perception, emotional experiences, and cultural attachments of Ethiopian medical students during human cadaveric dissection


Human cadaveric dissection has been used in Anatomy teaching for centuries and remains a time-honored and preferred method of instruction. However, the initial exposure to cadaver dissection sometimes evokes emotional reactions in medical students. Previous studies reported that students may experience stress and even psychological trauma. These emotional experiences and the attendant coping strategies utilized by the students may be affected by cultural attachment and ethnicity. Thus, the main aim of this study is to compare medical students’ perceptions, emotional experiences, and the impact of cultural adherence on the dissection of the human cadaver. A longitudinal survey was conducted focusing on cultural attachment, prior experience with cadaver dissection, emotional experiences, and coping strategies in the medical school of Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia in 2018. Data were collected at three time points (TP): a week before the initial exposure (TP1), a week after their first encounter with cadaver dissection (TP2), and at the end of the course or cadaver dissection (TP3). Findings indicate that self-rated perceptions of dissection as enjoyable, stimulating, exhilarating, and interesting increased over time, while emotions with negative intensity such as scary, depressing, unbearable, and anxiety-provoking emotions decreased. This study, suggests that while cultural attachment appears to affect the rate of change over time in several different emotional responses, affiliation with a religion (Christian versus Muslim) or an ethnic background (Amhara, Oromo, or other) per se, is not associated with significant differences across these emotional experiences, nor the rate at which they change. However, higher levels of cultural attachment did have a significant positive association with positive coping strategies over time.

Acceptance Date Apr 1, 2023
Publication Date May 1, 2023
Journal Journal of Academic Development and Education Anatomical Sciences Special Edition
Print ISSN 2051-3593
Keywords perceptions, emotional experiences, cultural attachment, coping, and cadaver dissection
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