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Teach Learn Med. 2012;24(1):49-54. doi: 10.1080/10401334.2012.641487.

Meeting the family: promoting humanism in gross anatomy.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Oklahoma Tulsa School of Community Medicine, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74135, USA.



Human dissection commonly occurs early in the undergraduate medical school curriculum, thus presenting an immediate opportunity for educators to teach and encourage humanistic qualities of respect, empathy, and compassion.


The purpose of this study was to measure the impact of the Donor Luncheon, a unique program in which medical students meet the families of the anatomical donor prior to dissection in the anatomy course at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine.


Students were randomized into groups of 8 to attend the luncheon and either met with family of the donor or attended the luncheon with no donor family present. A questionnaire measured students' attitudes at 2 weeks, 6 weeks, and at the conclusion of the anatomy course.


Factor analysis revealed 5 scales. Analysis revealed statistically significant differences across time for Donor as Person, Dissection Process, and Donor as Patient and statistically significant differences between groups for Donor as Person and Donor as Patient.


These results suggest that this program can provide students with the opportunity to maintain more humanistic attitudes at the beginning of their medical education career.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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