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Culture of Care

No one is allowed to inflict pain, suffering or harm on animals without a reasonable cause (§1 TierSchG). No other human-animal relationships seems to be in such conflict with our moral convictions about the worthiness of protecting animals as in animal research. With the revision of the directive on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes (2010/63/EU), animal welfare considerations should be given the highest priority in the context of animal housing, breeding and use in the sense of a positive Culture of Care (CoC) (Art. 26 2010/63/EU).


The term Culture of Care originates from the Anglo-Saxon area of nursing and medicine. A CoC stands for all jointly developed values and patterns of an organisation and reflects the quality of the care they provide. Conducting animal experiments or the public stigmatization of animal research as cruel and dirty can lead to individual psychological stress and ethical conflict situations in all professional groups (see also: versuchstierkunde kompakt).

 

Safeguarding the wellbeing of the person to be cared for and equally the wellbeing of the person providing care (staff wellbeing) have the same priority in a CoC. Hence, if we agree to use animals for research in principle, our scientific community must commit to promote animal wellbeing, staff wellbeing, ensure research quality and transparency with the upmost priority. In consequence, a postive culture of care in animal research implements the well-known 3R principles (Replacement/Reduction/Refinement) and three further principles: Reproducibility and the two main elements Responsibility and Respect. With such a defined code of ethics, we will responsibly implement our own as well as legal and social requirements for animal wellbeing and at the same time we fulfil our responsibility towards employee wellbeing.


In respect to achieve the maximum possible animal wellbeing in research we need human beings whi are who are particularly caring, compassionate and empathetic. But, it is precisely these people have a higher risk of suffering from the physical and psychological workloads in the long term. Without an appropriate intervention strategy, this suffering can lead to the phenomenon of compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue is described as a state of physical and mental exhaustion and leads not only to a reduction in one's quality of life, but also to a reduction in work performance and even to incapacity(Ref.1-6). 


Consequently, we have to address and tackle work-related mental stress more presently in animal research and within each individual organisation. I´m convienced, safeguarding of our own wellbeing, the wellbeing of our staff or colleagues will ensure maximum animal wellbeing. Therefore it is a matter close to my heart to focus on the issue of mental stress, compassion faitgue and human wellbeing as an esentiell element of a CoC in animal research. For this purpose, I have additionally trained myself in the field of healthy working environments (see references section).

References:


1. Cocker and Joss, 2016, PMID 27338436
2. Ferrara 2020, versuchstierkunde kompakt
3. LaFollete et al. 2020, PMID 32195275
4. Murray et al., 2020, PMID 33330693
5. Randall et al., 2021, PMID 33028460

6. Ferrara et al., 2022. PMID 35758270

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