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BACKGROUND: Postmortem examination is necessary to diagnose the cause of sudden death, and family caregivers are expected to consent to this examination. This study assessed knowledge, attitude, practices and willingness of family caregivers to consent to postmortem examination of their relative if they die suddenly in a Nigerian tertiary hospital.
METHODS: Descriptive cross-sectional study of family caregivers of our patients that completed an interviewer administered semi- structured questionnaire assessing their knowledge, attitude, practices and willingness to consent to postmortem examination of their relative if they die suddenly. Data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics.
RESULTS: A total of 224 caregivers were interviewed. The mean age (SD) was 34.95 (11.74), ranging 22-75 years. They were parents (32.6%), siblings (37.9%), spouses (11.2%) and other relatives (18.3%). Only 17% had adequate knowledge, 44.6% positive attitude and 11.2% good practices to postmortem examination of sudden death. The majority (75.9%) would consent to postmortem examination of their relatives if they die suddenly. Sociodemographic variables associated with willingness to consent to postmortem examination after relative’s sudden death include being male (AOR 3.61; 95%CI 3.09-8.92; p=0.001), having tertiary education (AOR 4.83; 95%CI 1.01-8.29; p=0.034), Christianity (AOR 2.59; 95%CI 1.25-5.35; p=0.010) and skilled worker (AOR 1.43; 95%CI 1.33-3.80; p=0.020).
CONCLUSION: Some family caregivers would not consent to postmortem examination of their relatives when they die suddenly. Sensitization programs targeting family caregivers are necessary to increase knowledge and enhance prevention of sudden death as well as improve willingness to consent to postmortem examination when their relatives die suddenly.