Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)TiHo eLib

Culture of care in animal research : expanding the 3Rs to include people

Research on animals is essential for science and medical progress. While it is still necessary to conduct this research, it is essential to apply the highest standards in animal welfare, including animal husbandry and care. Furthermore, it is important to recognize the special relationship between research animals and the people who care for them. Caring for research animals can be extremely fulfilling and meaningful, but it also comes with challenges, particularly when caring for animals experiencing pain or distress. These challenges can lead to work-related mental stress. To get more insight into the challenges of working in animal research, we organized a panel discussion at the GV-SOLAS (German Society for Laboratory Animal Science) and IGTP (Interest Group Animal Caretakers) conference 2021 about work wellbeing. This discussion was the first of its kind in Germany. The active panel contributions included the view of an ethical philosopher, a scientist, a lecturer for laboratory animal science, an animal facility manager and an animal caretaker. They gave insights from their perspective into key factors that can affect human wellbeing in animal research. Keys ideas included stigmatization of work, tension between research aims and animal wellbeing, and the importance of supportive culture to overcome work-related strains, as well as lack of education and supportive environments to cope with emotional stress in the workplace. Overall, the discussion has shown that we must also promote human wellbeing when promoting culture of care in animal research, because there is strong relationship between culture of care and individual performance.

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