Public knowledge of basic human anatomy 'is often lacking'

Scientific Developments/Breakthroughs

A new study has offered evidence that knowledge of human anatomy among members of the British public is often lacking.

For this Lancaster University research, an anatomical quiz was given to the public by researchers from Lancaster Medical School, in which participants were asked to place a number of organs on a blank template of a human body.

“A new study has indicated that public health efforts may be undermined by a lack of general awareness of human anatomy.“

It was found that the only organ which 100 percent of people placed correctly was the brain, with the biceps and the cornea also ranking highly in terms of awareness. By contrast, the adrenal glands were identified by less than 15 percent of people, with mistakenly thinking they were in the neck.

Men scored higher than women in identifying muscles, but not internal organs, while older people scored higher than young people, peaking in the 40 to 49 age group, which may be because this is when people begin visiting the doctor more often.

It was suggested that the general lack of awareness of anatomy may explain why health screening campaigns that target a specific organ may lack effectiveness.

Dr Adam Taylor from Lancaster University said: "Whilst many of the public do not have or need formal anatomical knowledge, it is beneficial in monitoring and explaining their own health."

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