Body donation in India: social awareness, willingness, and associated factors

Shrikant A Rokade, Anjana P Gaikawad
Anatomical Sciences Education 2012, 5 (2): 83-9
With the attendant rise of the number of medical colleges in India over past few decades, the demand for cadavers used in medical education and research is growing. However, there is an insufficient supply of donated cadavers available for dissection. This study was undertaken to assess the general population's awareness of body donation programs and willingness to donate in the State of Maharashtra, India. The willingness of participants to donate was compared with age, gender, and education of the respondents. A total of 625 adult individuals from the State of Maharashtra participated in a survey composed of questions about age, sex, education, awareness of body donation programs, and willingness to donate. It was found that 90.9% of the medical colleges surveyed reported an inadequate supply of cadavers. Of the general population, 32.1% of respondents were aware of body donation, compared to 95.83% of health care professionals. However, only 19.5% of the general population and 44.9% of health care professionals were willing to donate their bodies for anatomical education. Younger age groups, males, graduates, and postgraduates were found more willing to donate their bodies. Organ donation was preferred over body donation. A lack of awareness about body donation was the main factor responsible for respondents' "no body donation" response in the general population, along with firm religious beliefs and customs, the fear that the donated body will not be treated with respect and dignity, and the unacceptability of the dissection of one's own body. To overcome the current shortage of donated cadavers, efforts should be undertaken to change the mindset of the wider Indian society toward body donation. The authors believe this is possible through awareness campaigns and that prospective donors' concerns should be addressed appropriately. Proper guidance and assistance regarding body donation should be easily available for potential donors.

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