YouTube-based Course Orientation Videos Delivered Prior to Matriculation Fail to Alleviate Medical Student Anxiety About Anatomy

Anat Sci Educ. 2021 May 28. doi: 10.1002/ase.2107. Online ahead of print.


Gross anatomy is a source of anxiety for matriculating medical students due to the large volume of information presented in a truncated timeline, and because it may be their first exposure to human cadavers. This study aimed to assess if video-based resources would affect matriculating medical students' anatomy state anxiety levels. Videos were designed to be short, YouTube-based units that served to provide orientation information about the anatomy course, dissection facilities, and available study resources to dispel anxiety around beginning their anatomy studies. To evaluate the impact of the videos, students in two consecutive matriculating years (2018 and 2019) completed the validated State-Trait Anxiety Inventory and a demographic questionnaire. The 2019 cohort (n = 118) served as the experimental group with access to the videos; while the 2018 cohort (n = 120) without video access served as a historical control. Analyses revealed that the groups were equivalent in terms of trait anxiety (P=0.854) and anatomy state anxiety even when student video exposure was controlled (P=0.495). Anatomy state anxiety was only significantly lower in students with prior formal anatomy exposure (P=0.006). Further inquiry into students' prior anatomy experience identified that individuals with post-secondary dissection experience were significantly less anxious than those without formal anatomical experience (P = 0.023). These results may serve as a cautionary tale to educators; while preference for video-based instructional materials is prevalent in the literature, videos delivered on public social media platforms fail to prepare students for the psychological impact of studying human anatomy.

Keywords: Gross anatomy education; YouTube; anxiety; medical education; prematriculation; undergraduate education; video-based learning.