The “3Rs” Model And The Concept Of Alternatives In Animal Research: A Questionnaire Survey
The “3Rs Model” was originally conceived by Russell and Burch and consists of “trying to replace animal models with other models, to reduce the number of animals used, and to refine the experimental procedures to minimize or eliminate pain and distress.” This survey was designed to evaluate the 3Rs since there has been considerable progress in the development of alternatives since the original theory was conceived. 44 out of an initial distribution of 174 surveys were returned, with the majority from the United Kingdom, although proportionately higher percentages were returned from the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and the United States.
Knowledge and Implementation of the 3Rs Model
- 40% became aware of the model in the 1980s and 46% learned of it in the 1990s. 11% were unaware of an existing organization committed to the development of alternatives in their country.
- 50% believe that the 3Rs Model is feasible al of the time, while 41% believe it is some of the time.
- In the respondent’s daily work, 52% applied “refinement” the most, 23% apply “replacement” the most and 16% apply “reduction” the most.
- 71% felt there is a high level of knowledge of the 3Rs Model within their current workplace, 25% felt so within the scientific community and, 2% felt this was true among the general public.
- 95% indicated that scientific quality is of high importance in evaluating the potential use of alternative methods, while 82% felt that the reliability of the alternative method was extremely important. 66% consider the degree of harm to animals as highly important, while 16% felt that cost of the alternative to be of high importance. 18% attached practical constraints to high importance.
In sum, these quantitative results suggest that respondents perceive knowledge and awareness of the 3Rs to be high in the working environment, but less within the broader scientific community and public. However, it is acknowledged that scientists feel that it is difficult to assess the level of understanding among others within their research communities.
Methods through which scientists could then increase knowledge and awareness outside of their communities could include:
- Discussing protocols in relationship with the 3Rs could reinforce basic comprehension of the model.
- Promote courses and workshops explaining the model. These could be part of a university curriculum.