Last updated January 11, 2018 at 10:48 am
Health campaigns have one fatal flaw, says new research – people don’t know where body parts actually are.
Many health campaigns focus on one body part or organ. However researchers were intrigued in a disconnect between those messages and people’s understanding of where the organs might be in their body. And while it’s not necessarily important for getting health messages across to people, after raising awareness of health issues a basic knowledge of human anatomy is important for monitoring and explaining our health problems.
To find out how well people knew their adrenal glands from their appendix, researchers from Lancaster Medical School made them sit a test where they had to place organs on a blank template of a human body. The organs they had to arrange were the brain, cornea, lungs, liver, diaphragm, heart, stomach, appendix, bladder, kidneys, pancreas, gallbladder, spleen, adrenals, thyroid, hamstrings, biceps, triceps, quadriceps, cruciate ligament and Achilles tendon.
These terms were chosen based on mentions in everyday life such as fitness programs, sports injuries, TV shows and online searches.
The only organ which 100% of people answered correctly was the brain. The biceps muscle was correctly identified 9 out of 10 times, and the cornea 8 out of 10.
The least known organ was the adrenal gland, with less than 15% of people being able to identify it.
Incredibly, people who hadn’t graduated from university did better than graduates. However, unsurprisingly and reassuringly, people who work in any health-related job scored significantly higher than people in other jobs.
Men performed better than women at identifying muscles, but the women did better than men when it came to internal organs. Older people scored higher than young people, peaking in the 40-49 age group, which the researchers think this is because it’s about this point in life that people begin visiting the doctor more often. However a visit to the doctor just before the test didn’t help people’s scores.
The researchers were encouraged though, with lead researcher Dr Adam Taylor saying the public who took part were eager to learn anatomy despite their limited knowledge of the human body.
The research was published in Anatomical Sciences Education
Images courtesy of Lancaster University