A survey to understand public opinion regarding animal use in medical training

Ryan Merkley, John J. Pippin and Ari R. Joffe

A random survey was performed by ORC International Telephone CARAVAN®, on 24–27 March 2016, by trained interviewers. The aim of this survey was to gain further understanding of public perceptions in the United States of laboratory animal use, specifically for the purposes of medical training. Five statements were read in random order to the participants, who were then asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement. Survey responses were obtained from 1011 participants. For the combined statements: “If effective non-animal methods are available to train a) medical students and physicians, b) emergency physicians and paramedics, and c) paediatricians, those methods should be used instead of live animals”, most respondents (82–83%) agreed. For the statement: “You want your doctor to be trained by using methods that replicate human anatomy instead of live animals”, most respondents (84%) agreed. For the statement: “If effective non-animal methods are available, it is morally wrong or unethical to use live animals to train medical students, physicians and paramedics”, 67% of respondents agreed. Responses were similar among the 15 pre-specified demographic subgroups. Given that effective non-animal training methods are readily available, the survey suggests that a substantial majority of the public wants the use of animals in medical training to cease.

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Perceived Barriers to the Adoption of Alternatives to Laboratory Animal Use for Rabies Diagnosis

Vanessa C. Bones, Heloísa C. Clemente, Daniel M. Weary and Carla F.M. Molento

The use of laboratory animals is still common practice, but some uses can be replaced by alternative methods, such as Virus Isolation in Cell Culture (VICC) instead of the Mouse Inoculation Test (MIT) for rabies diagnosis. The objective of this work was to describe current rabies diagnosis methods in Brazil and other countries, and the constraints associated with replacing this use of mice with alternative methods. Nine out of 12 Brazilian and 14 out of 43 non-Brazilian respondents reported that they currently used the MIT. Respondents in countries other than Brazil, male respondents, and those already employing in vitro methods for rabies diagnosis, expressed higher levels of support for the use of alternatives. The most frequently reported constraints associated with the use of alternatives were lack of laboratory facilities, equipment and materials (cited 17 times by respondents), and lack of financial resources (cited 15 times). The results indicate that many laboratories continue to use mice for rabies diagnosis. The proportion of laboratories that use mice appears to be especially high in Brazil, despite animal protection laws and technical guidelines that favour the use of alternatives. The barriers to the adoption of alternative methods identified in the current study provide a basis for facilitating changes in Brazil and elsewhere.

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The Impact of the Introduction of the Ethical Review Process for Research Using Animals in the UK: Attitudes to Alternatives Among Those Working With Experimental Animals

Iain F.H. Purchase and Maria Nedeva

the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, namely the Certificate Holders, Project Licence Holders, Personal Licence Holders, Named Veterinary Surgeons, and Named Animal Care and Welfare Officers. The aim of the survey was to elicit views on the effectiveness of the introduction of the Ethical Review Process (ERP), introduced in April 1999. This report covers issues related to the use of alternatives, which were incorporated into the questionnaires. The number of returned questionnaires (45% of 1636 questionnaires) was sufficient for a meaningful analysis to be made of attitudes to the use of alternatives. In response to questions about the reason for the use of alternatives, more than 80% answered that alternatives should be used on moral or ethical grounds. Only about 50% of Certificate Holders and Licence Holders answered that alternatives were used because of legal requirements. Most respondents believed that replacement alternatives did not provide scientific information of equivalent value to that obtained from animal experiments. However, the majority also believed that it was possible to carry out valid scientific experiments by using replacement alternatives. The majority of Named Animal Care and Welfare Officers believed that the ERP had improved many aspects of refinement alternatives. In particular the “culture of care” had improved. Most establishments had a formal mechanism for discussing alternatives, although it was noteworthy that relatively few Personal Licence Holders believed this to be the case. In general, the majority of those working under the 1986 Act and most establishments seem to have a positive approach to the use of alternatives.
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Assessing the Search for Information on Three Rs Methods, and their Subsequent Implementation: A National Survey among Scientists in The Netherlands

Judith van Luijk, Yvonne Cuijpers, Lilian van der Vaart, Marlies Leenaars and Merel Ritskes-Hoitinga

A local survey conducted among scientists into the current practice of searching for information on Three Rs (i.e.Replacement, Reduction and Refinement) methods has highlighted the gap between the statutory requirement to apply Three Rs methods and the lack of criteria to search for them. To verify these findings on a national level, we conducted a survey among scientists throughout The Netherlands. Due to the low response rate, the results give an impression of opinions, rather than being representative of The Netherlands as a whole. The findings of both surveys complement each other, and indicate that there is room for improvement. Scientists perceive searching the literature for information on Three Rs methods to be a difficult task, and specific Three Rs search skills and knowledge of Three Rs databases are limited. Rather than using a literature search, many researchers obtain information on these methods through personal communication, which means that published information on possible Three Rs methods often remains unfound and unused. A solution might be to move beyond the direct search for information on Three Rs methods and choose another approach. One approach that seems rather appropriate is that of systematic review. This provides insight into the necessity for any new animal studies, as well as optimal implementation of available data and the prevention of unnecessary animal use in the future.
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