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Clin Teach. 2013 Aug;10(4):236-41. doi: 10.1111/tct.12013.

Case-based anatomy teaching: a viable alternative?

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School of Medicine, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, UK.



Over the last two decades, there has been a decline in the amount of time available for anatomy teaching in the medical undergraduate curriculum, and new methods of anatomy teaching have been adopted for pragmatic reasons, with little evidence base to support their proposed educational benefits. This study seeks to establish the effect of a case-based teaching method on students' confidence in anatomy.


Forty-three student volunteers in the clinical phase of the Glasgow medical course were given weekly anatomy teaching sessions based on clinical case presentations over 4 weeks. The students were given an anatomy test, and were asked to rate their confidence in their anatomy knowledge before and after the teaching sessions.


There was a two-point increase in students' self-rated confidence, and a 10.9 per cent increase in average test score after the case-based anatomy teaching sessions. Both of these increases were statistically significant (p < 0.001 and p < 0.001, respectively).


Case-based anatomy instruction can significantly improve students' confidence and knowledge of anatomy. This method of teaching was also highly rated by students, which may make it a viable option for the teaching of anatomy in the modern medical curriculum.

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