Willingness to Spare Animals in Undergraduate Medical Education in Southern India: A Preliminary Questionnaire-based Investigation
Syed Ilyas Shehnaz, Jayadevan Sreedharan, Elsheba Mathew, Kadayam Guruswami Gomathi and Nelofer Sami Khan
Animal experiments continue to play an integral role in Indian undergraduate medical education, even though alternatives are becoming increasingly available. In this context, this study aimed to assess the perceptions of pharmacology faculty members from medical colleges in southern India regarding the use of animals and alternatives in experimental pharmacology, and to determine the association between these perceptions and the socio-demographic characteristics of the participants. Data were collected from 59 faculty members of 15 medical colleges in southern India. The response rate was 84.3%. A 30-statement, five-domain questionnaire was used, with a global score of 120. The mean ± SD global score was 60.9 ± 17.3. Significant differences were observed in domain scores and individual statement scores with respect to the extent of teaching experience. There were no statistically significant differences in perceptions with respect to age, gender or educational qualifications. All the participating colleges were conducting at least 3–8 animal experiments per year on the rabbit, rat, mouse and frog/toad. The pharmacology faculty members in the southern India medical colleges included in the study (especially the more experienced teachers) supported animal use in undergraduate medical education, in spite of being aware of the drawbacks of animal experiments and the availability of alternatives.