Anatomy is the cornerstone of medical education and has been recognised as a necessity to ensure physicians’ safe clinical practice. Recent decades have observed the curtailment of traditional teaching methodologies, a trend that has generated considerable interest from academic scholars. Moreover, the pertinence of anatomy’s inherently multi-faceted nature to the development of modern teaching modalities has provided further impetus to evaluate the most efficacious means by which to impart anatomical insight. The COVID-19 pandemic caused anatomy educators across the world to emergently shift entire curricula into a remote format. This inadvertently created a unique opportunity to evaluate the efficacy of online and blended learning methodology. As such, the aim of this study was to (1) ascertain how anatomy education was implemented during the pandemic, (2) outline strengths and weaknesses of the adjusted curriculum, and (3) examine how our experiences should inform future pedagogical practice. This systematic review was conducted in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Keywords were contrived and deployed, along with all synonyms, across four electronic databases (Google Scholar, Web of Science, PubMed, Embase). Database selection followed guidance prescribed by Bramer and colleagues. Initial searches generated 637 results. After de-duplication, title and abstract screening, full text review, and application of outlined exclusion and inclusion criteria, 65 papers were identified and included. The review included articles heterogenous in study design methodology. The literature was appraised using the Quality Assessment Tool for Studies with Diverse Designs (QATSDD), a tool that has demonstrated good agreement in previous medical education research. As anticipated, there were facets of the traditional anatomy curricula that were sorely missed following the online shift. However, several changes implemented during the pandemic demonstrated salient attributes that should be considered in future program iterations. Apparently, an optimal anatomy educational program should be an amalgamation of in-person interactive and practical sessions, enhanced through the application of digital asynchronous theoretical material.


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Cite as

Gajic, N. & Rea, P. 2022, 'The impact of the COVID crisis on anatomical education: a systematic review', Medical Visualization and Applications of Technology, Cham, Switzerland, pp. 297-323. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-06735-8_10

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Last updated: 30 May 2023
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