Pilot study: Culture of Care as the cornerstone of effective 3Rs-implementation

Dr. Katharina Ameli & Prof. Dr. Stephanie Krämer
Gießen 10/2020-06/2012 

A “simple commitment” is not enough to implement sustainable changes in the culture of laboratory animal science. A culture of care can only be implemented if the stakeholders involved break down old structures and rules and interact with each other.

In 2010, the European Union adopted Directive 2010/63/EU [1], thereby creating an instrument for European member states to legally implement effective measures to regulate animal experimentation. The implementation of the 3Rs principle of Russell and Burch (1959) [2] is of paramount importance. This concept corresponds to the core of the work "The principles of humane experimental techniques". In it, the British scientists William Russell and Rex Burch describe that ideally every animal experiment should be replaced by an alternative procedure (Replace). If this is not possible, the smallest number of animals necessary should always be used (Reduce). In the experiment, the laboratory animals should have to endure as little pain, suffering or damage as possible, therefore all procedures on the animal should be refined in the sense of stress reduction and the promotion of well-being should be forced (Refine).

Thus, the guideline not only specifies to numerically reduce the number of animals used for experimental purposes, as well as to minimize the potential distress associated with animal experimentation by appropriate refinement measures, but also calls for replacing animal experiments with alternatives. In fact, the stringent implementation of the EU directive is proving difficult. In 2018, for example, the EU already criticized incorrect implementation of EU animal experimentation law into German law. Among other things, an insufficient implementation of the 3Rs concept was criticized.

In this context, the implementation of the 3Rs concept by establishing a Culture of Care is explicitly mentioned in Recital 31 of the EU Directive, but has not yet been conclusively established in implementation.

In addition to the international Culture of Care Network , Brown and Klein/Bayne also describe that essential components, such as communication, appreciation of people and animals, as well as the attitude and professionalism of the professionals, are necessary for the establishment of a Culture of Care. Consequently, the implementation of a Culture of Care goes hand in hand with high standards in terms of animal welfare and humane science and requires an appreciative interaction and attitude for humans and animals.

This means in conclusion that the term "Culture of Care" in the sense of the EU directive as well as the mentioned authors is understood as an appropriate behavior and attitude towards all animals and employees. This is characterized at all levels of an institution (management, science, care) by personal responsibility and a proactive attitude.

The analysis of characteristics of a concrete Culture of Care, as well as the question of its educational theoretical mediation is currently being increasingly discussed. . It remains unclear, especially for Germany as a research location, what significance a Culture of Care has in the context of the 3R strategy and which characteristics will be relevant in this context in the future.

The desideratum described above is particularly evident in the analysis of all levels involved, which is why the planned research project starts at precisely these levels and reflects a highly interdisciplinary approach, entirely in the sense of Russell and Burch's 3Rs concept.

Following on from the intensive and differentiated derivation of the historical anchoring and reception in the concept of a Culture of Care, the funded project focused on tracing the characteristics of a Culture of Care with the help of qualitative social research. The research design, which was developed in advance, allows a systematic and differentiated picture to be drawn with the help of the research question. The data collected is based on a non-standardized survey procedure (topic-oriented, guideline-based expert interviews) and was conducted at the management level, the scientific level, the supervisory level and the nursing level. This qualitative approach allows to establish "theoretical, methodological and methodological access to social reality" and to map the concept of a Culture of Care as completely and holistically as possible (von Kardorff 1995: 3) . The qualitative approach does not aim to generate countable or measurable results in the first step. Rather, the goal is to give space to the individual perspectives and subjective experiences of the experts and to understand the contexts, conditions, strategies and consequences for the Culture of Care and to depict them as a theoretical model.


ICAR3R - Interdisciplinary Centre for 3Rs in Animal Research
Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
Frankfurter Strasse 110
35392 Gießen


10/2020 - 06/2022

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