Trends in forensic autopsy rates in Central Norway during the period 2007–2017: Can media attention impact autopsy practices?
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionForensic Science International. 2020, 2, . http://doi.org/10.1016/j.fsir.2020.100155
The knowledge base regarding the frequency of forensic autopsies is limited. A Norwegian study investigated the practice of forensic autopsies in two neighbouring counties in Central Norway, Sør-Trøndelag and Nord-Trøndelag, in 2007–2009. This study revealed low autopsy rates for several manners of death and substantial regional differences. In 2013 the findings from this study received attention in Norwegian national media. The aim of our study was to evaluate the impact of this media attention by investigating the forensic autopsy rates in the same two counties over the time period 2007–2017, and, in particular, comparing the autopsy rates before and after the media attention in 2013. Data was retrieved anonymously from the Norwegian Cause of Death Registry, and analysed using the Chi square test. We found that the media attention in 2013 may have had a temporary effect on the forensic autopsy rates in Nord-Trøndelag, but overall there has been no noteworthy or lasting impact in either of the counties, and regional differences remain. The total forensic autopsy rate for unnatural deaths has declined from 40 % to 30 % over the time period 2007–2017, which is neither adequate nor in accordance with national legislation.