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Are laboratory animals stressed by their housing environment and are investigators aware that this stress can affect physiological data?

Jain, M. and Baldwin, A.L.

Medical Hypotheses, 60(2), 284-289 (2003).

Although stress can affect the behavior and physiology of laboratory animals, there has been little investigation into how the quality of animal research is affected if the animals are stressed. Even minor perturbations (i.e., environmental noise) can produce a stress response. A pilot survey was designed (29/49 responded) to determine the prevalence of noise in animal facilities and whether researchers are aware that noise can affect animal physiology. Most respondents agreed that environmental factors are stressful to laboratory animals (97%) and minor pain/stress causes physiological changes (62%). Of 19/29 respondents who believed their facility was quiet, 8 identified at least 3-5 pronounced noise sources. We hypothesize that the level of extraneous noise considered acceptable by an investigator depends on their degree of awareness that environment can affect an animal's physiology, and their perception of the existence of 'mind-body' interactions in an animal.