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Analysis of the use of human remains as teaching materials in higher education: examining differing opinions between population subgroups

Goodison, Georgina A.; Aris, Christopher


Georgina A. Goodison

Christopher Aris


Human components have been used as teaching resources for centuries. This study aimed to investigate the ethics and practicality surrounding this resource by analysing the opinions of students and professionals with exposure to human remains.Three questions were posed relating to the use of synthetic cadavers, the use of replicated bones, and the overall opinion regarding the ethics of using human material in teaching. These questions were disseminated through a survey aimed at students and professionals working with/studying using human remains in the UK, with 477 respondents. Kruskal-Wallis, Jonckheere Terpstra and Mann-Whitney U tests were used to identify any differences within the participants according to age and gender. Overall, all groups lent towards supporting the use of human remains in teaching. However, significant differences were noted between gender groupings and age categories, in particular between the 21-40 and 61+ age categories regarding the use of cadavers in teaching, and between male and female groups regarding the use of synthetic cadavers and replica bone. Even though multiple differences were noted, there was a consensus that use of human remains in teaching is ethical. The differences related to the degree that materials should be used across different fields, with medical students and professionals believing they should have sole access to real materials, whilst both archaeology and heritage professionals and non-professionals believed that all subjects should have access if it will help with student’s education.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 16, 2023
Online Publication Date Jul 4, 2023
Publication Date Jul 4, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jul 5, 2024
Journal European Journal of Anatomy
Electronic ISSN 2340-311X
Publisher Sociedad Anatomica Espanola
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 27
Issue 4
Pages 503-516
Keywords Anatomy, Body Donors, Bone, Ethics, Human Remains, Pedagogy
Publisher URL