Attitudes of UK pathologists and judicial officers towards medicolegal view and grant examinations: a cross-sectional mixed-methods study

Jacob Foster, David Sadler, Sam Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Aims: Despite the 1988 'Dundee Initiative', which maximised the use of view and grant examinations to reduce the invasive forensic autopsy rate in Tayside, the view and grant itself remains controversial. This is the first study to measure attitudes towards view and grants, applying the Theory of Planned Behaviour to investigate what attitudes are held, the reasons behind them and their association with deciding the scope of postmortem examinations. Methods: A mixed-methods cross-sectional study examined 62 UK pathologists, coroners and procurators fiscal using an online questionnaire. Participants were asked their demographics and attitudes towards view and grants before allocating five fictitious reportable deaths to either view and grant or invasive forensic autopsy (both in ideal and real world conditions), explaining their decisions using free-text. Results: Participants held both positive and negative attitudes towards view and grants, and most were relatively strong and ambivalent. Attitudes predicted respondents' decisions to favour view and grant or invasive forensic autopsy in all ideal world scenarios, but no real world scenarios. There were significant differences in attitudes and decisions when comparing pathologists and judicial officers, and respondents working in Coroner and Fiscal systems. Thematic analysis was conducted on free-text responses. Conclusions: Discrepancies between attitudes, and ideal and real world choices suggest that what respondents wanted to do did not necessarily translate to what they would actually do in the scenarios tested. Applying concepts of attitudes, norms and perceived control can help to understand decision-making by death investigators, and why some jurisdictions favour more invasive procedures.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberjcp-2024-209413
JournalJournal of Clinical Pathology
Early online date31 May 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 May 2024
Externally publishedYes

Data Availability Statement

Data are available in a public, open access repository. Please visit the Open Science Framework: osf.io/hafpm.

Keywords

  • Attitude
  • Autopsy
  • DEATH
  • Decision Making
  • FORENSIC PATHOLOGY

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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