An effective virtual tool for exposing medical students to the postmortem examination

Geoffrey A. Talmon, Donna Czarnecki, Kerry Bernal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objectives: One reason for declining autopsy numbers is clinicians' lack of familiarity with the practice. We developed an online tool used in place of attending postmortem examinations and aimed to determine if the experience was as effective in affecting medical students' attitudes toward the procedure. Methods: The eAutopsy was a part of a unit consisting of a mixture of a didactic lecture, readings, and online discussion board. A class of second-year medical students was randomly distributed between autopsy attendance and the eAutopsy, afterward completing a Likert-Type attitudinal survey. Responses were compared with previous students receiving only a lecture. Results: Thirty students attended a "live" autopsy, 90 completed the eAutopsy, and 47 students from the prior year completed the survey. Responses between all three were statistically similar for all but one item. The live and eAutopsy groups would be significantly more comfortable asking for an autopsy in the future. Narrative responses indicated that while the eAutopsy was effective in delivering information, some noticed the lack of emotional impact. Conclusions: The two forms of autopsy exposure performed similarly on a Likert-Type survey assessing certain attitudes related to the procedure. However, the emotional impact of the live experience may be longer lasting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)594-600
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of clinical pathology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2014


  • Attitudes
  • Autopsy
  • Education
  • Medical students
  • Online

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'An effective virtual tool for exposing medical students to the postmortem examination'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this