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No one is allowed to inflict pain, suffering or harm on animals without a reasonable cause (§1 TierSchG). No other human-animal bond seems to be in such conflict with our moral convictions about the worthiness of protecting animals as animals in 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 keeping, breeding and use in the sense of a living 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 the totality of the jointly developed values and patterns of an organisation and reflects the quality of the care they live. In this context, safeguarding the well-being of the person to be cared for and equally the well-being of the person providing care (staff well-being) have top priority. In German usage, the Culture of Care is often translated as a good care culture (Pflegekultur). However, if we respect the demands of a living CoC, this term should be used more broadly as a culture of care and responsibility. Hence, if we say yes to animal research in principle, our scientific community must commit to promote animal well-being (welfare), research quality, staff wellbeing and transparency with the upmost priority.

In consequence, a living 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 well-being and at the same time we fulfil our responsibility towards employee well-being.

If we want to achieve and ensure maximum animal well-being, we need people who are particularly caring, compassionate and empathetic. But, it is precisely these people who 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 (1-5).

In Germany, too, we must therefore thematise work-related psychological stress and effects on mental well-being more presently within the animal research community and also to adress this topic within each individual organisation. Only the well-being of our staff, colleagues and ourselves will ensure maximum animal well-being. It is therefore a personal affair of the heart not only to address the issues of mental stress, compassion faitgue and human well-being as an element of a CoC in animal research and with you, but also to accompany them professionally and actively. For this purpose, I have additionally trained myself in the field of healthy working environments (also see Reference Section).



  1. Cocker und 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

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