Assessing the Search for and Implementation of the Three Rs: A Survey among Scientists
Marlies Leenaars, Bart Savenije, Anne Nagtegaal, Lilian van der Vaart and Merel Ritskes-Hoitinga
A survey among scientists into the current practice of searching for Replacement, Reduction and Refinement (Three Rs) alternatives, highlights the gap between the statutory required need to apply the Three Rs concept whenever possible and the lack of criteria for searching for Three Rs alternatives. A questionnaire was distributed to 342 scientists (Federation of European Laboratory Animal Science Associations [FELASA] Category C and B individuals), of which 67 responded. These scientists are customers of the Central Animal Laboratory of Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre. The results indicate that there is room for improvement in searching effectively for the Three Rs: skills in searching biomedical databases for Three Rs alternatives are limited, knowledge of specialised Three Rs databases is very limited, and satisfaction on the availability and accessibility of Three Rs information is low. None of the respondents allocate budget for a specific Three Rs alternatives search, although 50% do spend, on average, two hours engaged in this search for each application to their animal ethics committees. The majority of the respondents expressed the wish that the search for alternatives could be easier and less time consuming, and prefer to achieve this through the service offered by specialists at the Central Animal Laboratory. On the basis of the results from the questionnaire, the 3R Research Centre was established, with the aim of providing services and support for biomedical scientists, to improve the search for, and subsequent implementation of, the Three Rs.