The 3Rs in animal welfare bodies at Swedish universities – knowledge, attitudes, implementation

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Johan Lindsjö
Charlotte Berg
Ulf Olsson
Elin Törnqvist


The implementation of the 3Rs (replacement, reduction and refinement) is emphasized in EU Directive 2010/63. The task of the animal welfare bodies (AWB) is to strengthen animal welfare and develop the 3Rs at research animal facilities. In 2016, we surveyed the knowledge on, attitudes towards and implementation of the 3Rs within AWBs at eight major Swedish universities. Based on responses of 34 closed-ended questions from 44 of 90 AWB members, the overall attitude towards the 3Rs was positive. AWB members did not believe that the 3Rs slow down innovation or result in increased costs, and refinement was considered beneficial for research quality. AWB members were particularly positive towards refinement questions in the survey. A majority of the AWB members predicted that alternative methods will never replace animal use. Researchers as a group represented in the AWBs were significantly less positive towards the 3Rs compared to the group of veterinarians. The tasks of the AWBs, e.g., giving advice on the 3Rs and following up on animal use in projects, were often not carried out in the AWB or not known by the respondents. Our results indicate a need for more practical and regulatory guidance and support to the AWBs. To reach the goal of the EU Directive to phase out animal use in research and education, we suggest that technical expertise in replacement techniques is included in the AWBs. We emphasize the need to strengthen the awareness of the 3Rs among researchers at Swedish universities.

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Lindsjö, J., Berg, C., Olsson, U. and Törnqvist, E. (2021) “The 3Rs in animal welfare bodies at Swedish universities – knowledge, attitudes, implementation”, ALTEX - Alternatives to animal experimentation, 38(3), pp. 477–489. doi: 10.14573/altex.1911141.

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