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Anat Sci Educ. 2017 Nov 7. doi: 10.1002/ase.1746. [Epub ahead of print]

What do the public know about anatomy? Anatomy education to the public and the implications.

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Clinical Anatomy Learning Centre, Lancaster Medical School, Lancaster University, Lancaster, United Kingdom.
Centre for Health Informatics, Computing and Statistics, Lancaster Medical School, Lancaster University, Lancaster, United Kingdom.
Department of Anatomy, School of Medicine, University of Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia.


Public knowledge of the anatomical "self" is lacking and evidence points towards a growing need for anatomy education to the wider public. The public were offered the opportunity to learn human anatomy and complete an anatomical knowledge survey afterwards. Sixty-three participants volunteered to attempt to place 20 anatomical structures on a blank human body template. Responses were scored independently and then collated. A mixed effects logistic model was used to examine any associations with participants' as a random effect and all other factors as fixed effects. Results showed a statistically significant quadratic trend with age. Participants in health-related employment scored significantly higher than those not in health-related employment. There was a significant interaction between gender and organ type with males scoring higher than females in identifying muscles, but not in identifying internal organs. The current study demonstrates the general public's eagerness to learn anatomy despite their limited knowledge of the human body, and the need for widening participation. Furthermore, it raises an awareness of the anatomical literacy needs of the general public, especially in school children and young adults. Furthermore, it emphasizes the value of health literacy as a focus in undergraduate medical education. Anatomy literacy appears to be neglected, and this experience provides an example of a possible mode of public engagement in anatomy. Anat Sci Educ. © 2017 American Association of Anatomists.


anatomy outreach programs; gross anatomy education; medical education; public education; public engagement; widening participation

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