Perceptions and Attitudes of Romanian People Toward Autopsy Procedures According to the Level of Knowledge

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Abstract

In the last decade, Romanian hospitals have been facing a decline in autopsy rates. This has had a negative impact on medical education and the training of young doctors. Quite a number of caregivers strongly oppose the carrying out of autopsies on their deceased loved ones who have died in hospital. Hence, this study was designed to evaluate how autopsies are perceived by an average person and whether improved knowledge about autopsies would help reduce people’s reluctance toward them. The study involved 216 willing participants who had either never had a loved one die in hospital or had never had the power to make a decision about their dead loved ones’ body. The method of data collection used was a medical inquiry–based questionnaire. Two questionnaires were used, one before and one after brief information regarding autopsy procedures. Only a small percentage of subjects really knew the meaning of an autopsy. Initially, they accepted that it was easier to consent to their own autopsy than to the autopsy of a loved one. This difference in opinion reduced after they were informed about autopsies. As for arguments against autopsies, the most frequent were integrity of the body and religious reasons. It is extremely useful to ensure people have proper information, in order to help them understand and appreciate the benefits of postmortem examinations. Religious, social, and cultural arguments might be put aside if proper information and new educational programs are put in place.

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