By Rikke Nøhr, Thomas Bøker Lund and Jesper Lassen
The purpose of the Danish 3R Survey was to study the knowledge of, attitudes to and experiences with the 3Rs amongst Danish researchers involved with animal experiments, as well as their expectations of the Danish 3R Center. A total of 293 animal researchers answered a questionnaire designed to uncover these aspects of knowledge and attitudes towards the 3Rs.
The majority of the animal researchers assessed their knowledge of the 3Rs to be good. Generally, the level of factual understanding of the 3Rs was with relatively high, although it was better for reduction and replacement and poorer for refinement.
Regarding the animal researchers’ experience with implementation and barriers and attention to the 3Rs, a clear majority said that refinement and reduction play a role when they plan and carry out experiments, and many have developed techniques to refine and reduce the use of animal. Even replacement plays a role for many when planning and designing experiments, although it is less clear how this happens in practice.
A considerable proportion of the respondents are of the opinion that the implementation of the 3Rs will not be detrimental to their work just as many do not think that there are any obstacles for implementing the principles. Despite this, only a minority believe that complete replacement of animal experimentation will be achieved in the future.
When asked directly, many pointed to a lack of appropriate scientific or technological innovation as the main obstacle to implementing the 3Rs. Increased data sharing or collaboration between research groups and companies was pointed to as the main requirement for further reduction, whereas scientific factors such as greater availability of human tissues, more relevant cell cultures and more predictive computer models were identified as the most important requirements for further replacement.
The Danish 3R-Center was fairly well known among the researchers, and the majority found that the Center is important for people working with experiments in Denmark.
Overall, significant differences were found between the researchers from the public and private sector. Thus private sector researchers were more confident regarding their knowledge of the 3Rs, just as they also demonstrated a better factual understanding of the principles. Moreover, there were large differences between public and private sector researchers attention towards the 3Rs; thus private sector researchers tend to consider the 3Rs, during their daily work with the animals, whereas the public researchers primarily consider the 3Rs when designing projects or during the ethical review process.
The results point at some future action points that the Danish 3R-Center can pursue in their future activities. A dual strategy is recommended where the Center, on one hand, focusses its attention on disseminating information about the 3Rs to scientists in the public sector, where it is especially relevant to increase knowledge and the understanding as to how to make the 3Rs operational in the daily work. On the other hand, it is also important to offer conferences/seminars (e.g. the annual symposia) as especially requested by scientists in the private sector.
Knowledge, attitudes and experiences with the 3Rs among researchers involved in animal experiments in Denmark