Volume 4, Issue 6 p. 305-310
Research Report

Medical students' attitudes toward the anatomy dissection room in relation to personality

Odile Plaisant

Corresponding Author

Odile Plaisant

Development, Imaging, and Anatomy Research Unit (URDIA, E.A. 4465), University of Paris Descartes, Sorbonne Paris Cité, School of Medicine, Paris, France

Epilepsy Unit and Pain Centre, Assistance Publique Hôpitaux de Paris (APHP), University Hospital of Pitié Salpêtrière, Paris, France

Department of Psychology, EA 2114, University of Tours, Tours, France

URDIA, Université de Paris Descartes, 45 rue des Saints Pères, 75006 Paris, FranceSearch for more papers by this author
Robert Courtois

Robert Courtois

Department of Psychology, EA 2114, University of Tours, Tours, France

Psychiatric University Clinic, University Hospital of Tours, Tours, France

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Paule Joanne Toussaint

Paule Joanne Toussaint

Development, Imaging, and Anatomy Research Unit (URDIA, E.A. 4465), University of Paris Descartes, Sorbonne Paris Cité, School of Medicine, Paris, France

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Gerald A. Mendelsohn

Gerald A. Mendelsohn

Department of Psychology, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, California

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Oliver P. John

Oliver P. John

Department of Psychology, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, California

Institute of Personality and Social Research (IPSR), University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, California

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Vincent Delmas

Vincent Delmas

Development, Imaging, and Anatomy Research Unit (URDIA, E.A. 4465), University of Paris Descartes, Sorbonne Paris Cité, School of Medicine, Paris, France

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Bernard J. Moxham

Bernard J. Moxham

Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom

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First published: 25 August 2011
Citations: 34

Abstract

Assessment of the personalities of medical students could enable medical educators to formulate strategies for the best development of academic and clinical competencies. In this article, we focus on the experience of students in the anatomy dissecting room. While there have been many attempts to evaluate the emotional responses of medical students to human cadaveric dissection, there has been no investigation into how different personality traits affect the responses. The main hypothesis tested was that there is a relationship between personality traits and attitudes toward the dissection room. For the present study, a group of French medical students (n = 403; mean age 21.3 ± 1.6; 65.3% female) completed a “Big Five” personality inventory and a questionnaire to assess their attitudes in regard to human dissection. The findings are consistent with our hypothesis, in that we found a relationship between reporting anxiety and four of the “Big Five” dimensions (all except openness). The rated level of anxiety was positively correlated with negative affectivity, more strongly at the beginning than at the end of the course. There were significant gender differences in attitudes toward dissection. The findings are discussed in relation to the possibility of preparing students for the dissecting room experience and also in relation to the students' understanding of mortality issues. Anat Sci Educ. © 2011 American Association of Anatomists.