A recent study (open access) of Canadian pediatricians and nurses notes that “health care workers (HCW) often perform, promote, and advocate use of public funds for animal research”. Because health care professionals have an important influence on public perceptions of animal research, their advocacy is important for the animal research industry.
The purpose of the study was to investigate whether health care professionals are in fact well-informed about the nature of animal research – its scientific rigour, and likelihood of translating into human health benefits. The study found a significant discrepancy between the beliefs of doctors and nurses, and the reality of animal research. Health care professionals significantly overestimate the scientific rigour of animal-based research, and significantly overestimate the likelihood that animal research findings will translate to human responses to drugs and disease. In other words, health care workers regularly promote the benefits of animal research, but their advocacy is based on serious misinformation.
The study also found that if health care workers were better informed about the realities of animal research, they would withdraw their support.
- Joffe, Ari R., Meredith Bara, Natalie Anton, and Nathan Nobis. 2015. “Expectations for Methodology and Translation of Animal Research: A Survey of Health Care Workers.” BMC Medical Ethics 16 (1): 29. doi:10.1186/s12910-015-0024-x.