Body Donation, Teaching, and Research in Dissection Rooms in Spain in Times of Covid-19

Anat Sci Educ. 2021 Sep;14(5):562-571. doi: 10.1002/ase.2093. Epub 2021 Aug 27.


The state of alarm due to Covid-19 pandemic in Spain stopped all educational and most university research activities. The Spanish Anatomical Society (SAE) Consensus Expert Group on Body Donations piloted a study based on a questionnaire to know the status of body donations and dissection activities during the lockdown, as well as the future implications of Covid-19 pandemic for body donation programs and anatomy teaching. The questionnaire results show that Spanish Universities refused body donations and stopped all dissection research and teaching. The Covid-19 expected influence on anatomy teaching was referred to the increase in teaching workforce and resources required to apply the new safety measures to future practical activities, as well as to prepare and adapt teaching material for online-only programs. The application of reinforced safety measures was expected to be perceived by the respondent's students as a gain in teaching quality, while the transformation of the anatomy courses in online-only programs will be perceived as a quality decrease. The respondent's concerns about future institutional implications of the pandemic were related to increased costs of the adaptation of the facilities and the reinforced preventive measures, as well as the eventual decrease in donations. The complete lockdown applied to dissection rooms was not justified by scientific evidence and represented a break of the confidence deposed in the institutions by the donors. A consensus is required for the adoption of a renewed, comprehensive protocol for present and future body donations including the evidence Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to create.

Keywords: Covid-19; dissection; gross anatomy education; medical education; translational research; undergraduate education.

MeSH terms

  • Anatomy* / education
  • COVID-19*
  • Cadaver
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Dissection
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Spain
  • Teaching