Attitudes Toward the Use of Animals in Chronic versus Acute Pain Research: Results of a Web-based Forum
Elisabeth H. Ormandy and Gilly Griffin
When asked about the use of animals in biomedical research, people often state that the research is only acceptable if pain and distress are minimised. However, pain is caused when the aim is to study pain itself, resulting in unalleviated pain for many of the animals involved. Consequently, the use of animals in pain research is often considered contentious. To date, no research has explored people's views toward different types of animal-based pain research (e.g. chronic or acute pain). This study used a web-based survey to explore people's willingness to support the use of mice in chronic versus acute pain research. The majority of the participants opposed the use of mice for either chronic (68.3%) or acute (63.1%) pain research. There was no difference in the levels of support or opposition for chronic versus acute pain research. Unsupportive participants justified their opposition by focusing on the perceived lack of scientific merit, or the existence of non-animal alternatives. Supporters emphasised the potential benefits that could arise, with some stating that the benefits outweigh the costs. The majority of the participants were opposed to pain research involving mice, regardless of the nature and duration of the pain inflicted, or the perceived benefit of the research. A better understanding of public views toward animal use in pain research may provide a stronger foundation for the development of policy governing the use of animals in research where animals are likely to experience unalleviated pain.