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Attitudes Toward Animal Research Among Medical Students in the United States

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Abstract

Prior to use in patients in the clinical setting, the safety, mechanism of action, and efficacy of new treatments must beestablished. This often requires testing new treatments in animals. Public attitudes toward animal research have been investigated,but less is known about the attitudes of physicians. To begin to address this, we examined attitudes of medical students regarding animal research, and whether these attitudes were rigidly held. We surveyed US-based student members of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN). Students were questioned regarding agreement or disagreement with a set of 14 positively- or negatively-biased statements regarding animal research. To determine if these attitudes were rigidly held, students viewed an educational video regarding animals used in research and repeated the survey immediately afterthe video. One hundred sixty-eight students completed the initial survey. A group attitude score was calculated based onagreement with 14 statements. Males and those with previous research experience had a significantly more positive attitude toward animal research, but other variables had no effect. After viewing the video, 108 students repeated the survey. The overall attitude of respondents changed to be significantly more positive toward animal research. Of the 14 statements, attitudes toward 7 individual statements became significantly more positive after viewing the video. To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine attitudes toward animal research among medical students. Overall, the group’s attitude towardanimal research was more positive than negative. However, these negative attitudes do not appear to be rigidly held. Thesefindings should be considered in the future of medical education curriculum development.

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Rudacillle D. 2000. The scalpel and the butterfly: The conflict between animal research and animal protection. New York (NY): University of California Press.
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