Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2015

Abstract

Background: Health care workers (HCW) often perform, promote, and advocate use of public funds for animal research (AR); therefore, an awareness of the empirical costs and benefits of animal research is an important issue for HCW. We aim to determine what health-care-workers consider should be acceptable standards of AR methodology and translation rate to humans.

Methods: After development and validation, an e-mail survey was sent to all pediatricians and pediatric intensive care unit nurses and respiratory-therapists (RTs) affiliated with a Canadian University. We presented questions about demographics, methodology of AR, and expectations from AR. Responses of pediatricians and nurses/RTs were compared using Chi-square, with P < .05 considered significant.

Results: Response rate was 44/114(39%) (pediatricians), and 69/120 (58%) (nurses/RTs). Asked about methodological quality, most respondents expect that: AR is done to high quality; costs and difficulty are not acceptable justifications for low quality; findings should be reproducible between laboratories and strains of the same species; and guidelines for AR funded with public money should be consistent with these expectations. Asked about benefits of AR, most thought that there are sometimes/often large benefits to humans from AR, and disagreed that “AR rarely produces benefit to humans.” Asked about expectations of translation to humans (of toxicity, carcinogenicity, teratogenicity, and treatment findings), most: expect translation >40% of the time; thought that misleading AR results should occur <21% of the time; and that if translation was to occur <20% of the time, they would be less supportive of AR. There were few differences between pediatricians and nurses/RTs.

Conclusions: HCW have high expectations for the methodological quality of, and the translation rate to humans of findings from AR. These expectations are higher than the empirical data show having been achieved. Unless these areas of AR significantly improve, HCW support of AR may be tenuous.