Researchers have found that health screening campaigns that target a specific organ may lack effectiveness if the public have a poor knowledge of anatomy.

"Whilst many of the public do not have or need formal anatomical knowledge, it is beneficial in monitoring and explaining their own health," said Adam Taylor, Director of the Clinical Anatomy Learning Centre and Senior Lecturer in Anatomy at Britain's Lancaster University.

The study, published in the Journal Anatomical Sciences Education, found that middle-aged non-graduates scored better than young graduates in an anatomical quiz given to the public by the researchers.

Members of the public were asked to place body parts like 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 on a blank template of a human body.

These terms were chosen based on mentions in everyday life such as keeping fit, sports injuries, TV shows and online searches for abdominal pain, but the only organ which 100 percent of people answered correctly was the brain. The biceps muscle and the cornea were the next most correctly answered structures.

The organs which the public knew least about were the adrenal glands which less than 15 per cent of people could identify and many thought mistakenly were in the neck.

Men scored higher than women in identifying muscles but not internal organs. Also, graduates did not score better than non-graduates.

Older people scored higher than young people, peaking in the 40-49 age group which may be because this is when people begin visiting the doctor more often.

People working in any health-related job scored significantly higher than people in other jobs. People who had visited a healthcare professional prior to the quiz fared no better than those who had not.