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Creating space to build emotional resilience in the animal research community


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The relationships between individuals and the research animals they work with can enhance animal welfare, but they also involve a moral cost to staff. Securing a safe space to communicate openly about animal welfare & research and acknowledge its emotional impacts is crucial. In this Comment, we reflect on emotional resilience and provide resources available to help manage the emotional burden of working with laboratory animals.
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Creating space to build emotional resilience in
the animal research community
The relationships between individuals and the research animals they work with can enhance animal welfare,
but they also involve a moral cost to sta. Securing a safe space to communicate openly about animal welfare &
research and acknowledge its emotional impacts is crucial. In this Comment, we reflect on emotional resilience and
provide resources available to help manage the emotional burden of working with laboratory animals.
Jordi L. Tremoleda and Angela Kerton
The recent Covid-19 pandemic has
forced many institutions to scale
back operations, including animal
research. Institutions as well as suppliers,
who have reported receiving fewer orders,
have had to greatly reduce their animal
stocks1. After being tasked with culling those
stocks, animal staff must now support all the
general maintenance of those animals that
remain. While there is a general consensus
among institutional governance that these
decisions had to be taken to support ‘stay
at home’ recommendations and reduce risk
to human health, it is important that we
acknowledge the emotional pressures of
performing such actions.
For animal care staff, euthanasia
remains a major professional duty with
an enormous emotional burden. It is a
regulatory requirement that laboratory
animals be humanely euthanized to
alleviate any unnecessary pain and suffering
to protected animals, or when necessary
as the result of a research study. While
animal researchers may find some comfort
from the fact that the animals they are
euthanizing have a justifiable purpose
and meaning and that the procedure is
appropriately performed, facing the
task of euthanizing animals can be
psychologically challenging and lead to
euthanasia stress. The tension between a
commitment to keep healthy animals
and the obligation to euthanize those
same animals in a professional manner
is one of the hardest elements of the
job to reconcile2,3.
The relationship between laboratory
animals and those who work with them
has an overwhelming impact not just on
the animals’ wellbeing, but also on the
emotional health of animal staff. This
emotional impact is exacerbated by the
responsibilities of working with other
sentient beings and determining how
best to ensure their wellbeing following
humanely induced interventions that
cause certain degrees of harm or distress.
Staff can also feel pressured by increasing
social accountability4 and by their own
individual moral values on care and
compassion. The professional expectation
that those working in animal research be
devoid of concerns is not realistic, as all
people are prone to stress because of the
peculiarities of their duties5.
Indeed, staff working with laboratory
animals are exposed to many moral
stressors, including experimental
procedures and animal euthanasia, that
significantly contribute to the development
of compassion fatigue,6 a condition
characterized by a reduced capacity for
empathy and caring behavior following the
knowledge that others have experienced
a traumatizing event. Compassion fatigue
can drive physical and emotional distress
and diminish the quality of care and welfare
attention delivered to animals7. Symptoms
can include disruptive attitudes, such as
lack of communication with colleagues
and isolation from others, which can
progress towards bottling up emotions,
difficulty concentrating, mental and physical
tiredness, and depression.
A related concept, empathetic distress
fatigue, may better capture the consequences
for caregivers such as animal staff8.
Compassion is an attitude associated with
‘feeling for,’ while empathy is more closely
associated with a sense of ‘feeling with’ and
has a stronger affective impact9. Such an
excessive emotional altruism, if not well
balanced, can lead to an excess of self-
responsibilities; this pressure can progress
Compassion fatigue among animal staff can lead to feelings of isolation and hinder lab animal care.
A supportive environment is key for building emotional resilience. Credit: jayk7 / Moment / Getty
towards disconnected emotions and thus,
less attention to animal care.
A good culture of care is key to the
welfare of laboratory animals, and it is
also central to the wellbeing of the staff
working directly and indirectly with those
animals; this in turn has a direct impact on
the quality of the science10,11. Empathetic
behavior can only develop when staff
feel emotionally and physically safe and
that they are valued; institutions must
support this caring professional attitude
and ensure that their staff perceive actions
and communications from management
as supportive.
Providing a safe space where the staff
can reflect on their individual experiences
and receive support for their emotional
and/or physical challenges is important.
Sharing and analyzing personal experiences
at work, whether individually or in groups,
can help others learn from those experiences
and encourage an attitude of care. Team
exploration and interactive reflection are
also important, as individuals with different
responsibilities will identify different issues
that can affect behavior. Institutions should
be acknowledging the affective state of
their staff members and encourage their
confidence in providing compassionate care.
For example, well-recognized techniques
for developing compassion skills are found
in mindfulness programs, which provide
personal space and tools to promote
individual and group communication.
Engaging communication should occur
between staff with different levels and areas
of expertise, as one should be mindful
of different moral or cultural values and
competing pressures and responsibilities.
It is important to appreciate the different
dimensions and expressions of emotional
resilience—and some of its challenges—
by reflecting on the ways in which the
emotional labor of caring is distributed
across all staff working in animal research.
Resources to support cultures of care
and building up emotional resilience
Emotional resilience is the ability to
respond and adapt to stressful situations.
Whilst laboratory animal personnel may
be particularly at risk of experiencing
significant stress in their work, it is
important that they can tackle such
challenges and live through adversity in
their caring duties. Being flexible and
adaptable is crucial and everyone can
take steps to develop greater personal
emotional resilience.
Strategies for supporting care
and emotional work include sharing
responsibilities, sharing scientific work
and goals, and sharing stories between
the different stakeholders in animal
research. Animal Welfare Bodies and
Institutional Ethical Committees must
reinforce the importance of shared
responsibility and having a pro-active
approach towards animal care and
welfare; they should also underscore the
importance of effective communication
and valuing interpersonal elements of
care to empower their staff and show that
them they are respected, will be listened
to, and that their roles are supported
throughout the establishment. It is crucial
that all voices and concerns be heard,
emotional challenges recognized, and all
dealt with positively.
Divide emotional labor. Promoting team
working approaches with well-assigned
individual and group-shared responsibilities
remains an important strategy for nurturing
a good culture of care; it can also help
dilute individual emotional burdens. Such
a collaborative ethos should be already
established across all the animal research
community, including reciprocal interaction
between researchers and animal care staff.
A hierarchic approach can be detrimental
to openness and communication and could
lead to staff disengagement, eventually
evolving towards less caring attitudes2,5. The
division of labor is well aligned to efficiency
of labor, and it is likely to reduce the impact
of challenging duties, such as culling and
euthanasia, thus serving to minimize staff
stress and anxiety.
Support emotional openness. Laboratory
animal set ups, which can often feel very
formal and focused on compliance and
biosafety regulations, can make displaying
emotions complex. Common areas are
generally dedicated to catering or bench
administrative duties, with limited social
space and generally restricted natural
lightning. However, it is important to
provide both individuals and teams with a
space to accommodate ‘switching off’ for
personal and reflective time and where staff
can feel comfortable openly discussing their
work and its emotional impact.
Communication during breaks must
be encouraged and that time protected.
Staff can easily develop a protective
attitude towards emotional ‘old wounds;’
such seemingly emotional resilience can
easily build up to disconnection and lack
of engagement. Furthermore, laboratory
animal professionals often do not talk
openly in public about their chosen career
pathway for fear of disproval or personal
security concerns. This may lead to feelings
of suppression and even shame for working
in a somewhat ‘covert,’ little understood
professional sector. Therefore, we need
to acknowledge emotions and facilitate
openness within a safe and respectful space
in the lab animal field.
Table 1 | Emotional resilience on-line resources
Source Resource
The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Mind Matters Initiative (MMI)
The Webinar Vet ‘Turning mind-full to mindful’
The University of Oxford Mindfulness Centre
UK mental health charity Mind
American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
(AALAS) Cost of Caring
Canadian Association for Laboratory Animal Science /
Association Canadienne pour la Science des Animaux
de Laboratoire (CALAS/ACSAL
COVID-19: One person’s perspective on the toll on animals and humans, from present state of
the pandemic
LabRoots Compassion Fatigue: Education and Engagement in Animal Research by Marian Esvelt, DVM
Institute of Animal Technology, UK Let’s talk euthanasia
It’s OK, not to be OK, Let’s talk about COVID-19
While it is true the provision of many
professional and environmental working
factors are directly impacted by institutional
and managerial decisions (e.g. working
rotas, scheduling, work expectation and
appraisal, delivery outcomes, working
physical space, sick /annual leave),
managers are not professional mental
health care workers, nor do they have
the specific training for undertaking
such responsibilities. Therefore it is
important that institutions facilitate access
to professional counselling and pastoral
support, and that staff are well informed
of these opportunities. Nevertheless,
managers may find themselves the first
port of call for those in need of support,
so it is important that the appropriate
routes of communication are established,
to preserve trust and confidentiality with
the managers and staff.
Be aware of the increasing resources
available. Individual pro-action remains
one of the key pillars of emotional balance,
along with the abovementioned approaches
to express emotional challenges and
to develop better coping mechanisms.
Techniques that encourage expression and
openness of emotions and support positive
learning from personal experiences to build
up optimistic patterns and judgements on
specific challenges would promote better
emotional connection with colleagues.
Similarly, supporting personal acceptance
and avoiding comparison with others while
building up pride in any job, small or large,
will enhance participation and engagement
among colleagues. There are many
professional resources available to support
this, particularly for animal technologists12,13,
and they adapt to a range of new working
measures while also highlighting the need to
protect work/life balance. Several resources
are summarized in Table 1.
The laboratory animal field is facing
considerable challenges, in light of the
Covid-19 pandemic and beyond it, with
increasing expectations for new therapeutic
discoveries and stronger commitments
to protect the welfare of both animals
and laboratory animal workers. As these
challenging demands increase, so does the
risk of compassion & empathetic fatigue and
the need to protect the emotional integrity
of animal staff. Support remains limited,
and we urge readers to continue raising
awareness and developing resources to
encourage a culture of openness regarding
emotional labor and the support of staff
dealing with compassion fatigue. The
implementation of discussion platforms and
resilience training opportunities that we
have identified will improve not only animal
welfare and staff wellbeing, but also the
integrity of our research.
In other words: “Sharing science,
sharing care.”
Jordi L. Tremoleda  1,2 ✉ and Angela Kerton3
1e Blizard Institute, Barts and the London School
of Medicine, London, UK. 2Biological Services.
4 Newark St, London E1 2AT, UK. 3e Learning
Curve (Development) Ltd., P.O Box 140, Ware,
Hertfordshire SG9 0ZN, UK.
Published: xx xx xxxx
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3. AALAS. Compassion Fatigue: e Cost of Caring. Human
emotions in the care of laboratory animals.
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July 2020]
4. Ipsos MORI. Attitudes to animal research in 2016. https://www.
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[Accessed July 2020]
6. Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project. Recognising compassion
(2017). [Accessed July 2020]
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Assoc 247, 1121–1130,
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Assoc Lab Anim Sci. 58, 289–292 (2019).
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compassion fatigue? Integrating ndings from empathy research
in psychology and social neuroscience. In: Oakley B, Knafo A,
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New York: Oxford University Press, 1–23 (2011).
10. P Greenhough, B. & Roe, E. Sci Technol Human Values. 43,
694–722 (2018).
11. P, Hawkins. Communication and the Culture of Care. Conference:
Culture of Care Network. (2018).
12. Institute of Animals Technology. It’s OK NOT TO BE OKAY
Let’s Talk Coping with Change A Future of Hope ? https:// [Accessed July 2020]
13. Institute of Animal Technology (IAT) Let’s talk euthanasia (2020). [Accessed July 2020]
We are very grateful to Dr Beth Greenhough for her
guidance and support during the writing of this document.
Competing interests
The authors declare no competing interests.
... 11 These refer to an array of harms to animal laboratory personnel associated with physical and emotional distress that can also impact the quality of care and welfare attention given to animals. 12 There is some disagreement about the nature of compassion fatigue, and some have argued it is a misnomer, that in fact it is empathy, not compassion, that can lead to the burn-out and other associated harms that are observed. 13 For our purposes, we are concerned about the overall negative welfare impact on laboratory animal personnel arising from harming animals used in research, and the factors that influence their occurrence and extent. ...
... However, current standards do mean AECs should have regard for AUB, because this may make laboratory animal personnel less able to maintain high animal welfare standards, 12 and some iii However, we accept that AUB may be implicit in some aspects of ethical review. For example, the American Veterinary Medical Association includes aspects of AUB in their assessment of techniques covered in their 'Euthanasia Guidelines'. ...
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Animal ethics committees (AECs) typically focus on the welfare of animals used in experiments, neglecting the potential welfare impact of that animal use on the animal laboratory personnel. Some of this work, particularly the killing of animals, can impose significant psychological burdens that can diminish the well-being of laboratory animal personnel, as well as their capacity to care for animals. We propose that AECs, which regulate animal research in part on the basis of reducing harm, can and ought to require that these harms to researchers are reduced as well. The paper starts by presenting evidence of these burdens and their harm, giving some examples showing how they may be mitigated. We then argue that AECs are well placed to account for these harms to personnel and ought to use their power to reduce their occurrence. We conclude by responding to four potential objections: (1) that this problem should be addressed through health and safety administration, not research ethics administration; (2) that the proposal is unjustifiably paternalistic; (3) that these harms to laboratory animal personnel ought to occur, given their treatment of animals; and (4) that mitigating them may lead to worse treatment of research animals.
... It was chosen for comparison because of the impacts of COVID-19 also may have affected chimpanzee caregivers at the time of data collection in this study. Despite the additional stress of the pandemic [21,28] many of these laboratory workers had high levels of CS. Scotney and colleagues [12] surveyed 229 animal care workers from a variety of occupations such as veterinarian practices, research technicians, and shelter workers. ...
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Compassion fatigue is defined as “traumatization of helpers through their efforts at helping others”. It has negative effects on clinicians including reduced satisfaction with work, fatigue, irritability, dread of going to work, and lack of joy in life. It is correlated with patients’ decreased satisfaction with care. Compassion fatigue occurs in a variety of helping professions including educators, social workers, mental health clinicians, and it also appears in nonhuman animal care workers. This study surveyed caregivers of chimpanzees using the ProQOL-V to assess the prevalence of compassion fatigue among this group. Compassion satisfaction is higher than many other types of animal care workers. Conversely, this group shows moderate levels of burnout and secondary traumatic stress; higher levels than other types of animal care workers and many medical professions. While compassion fatigue has an effect on the caregiver’s experience, it has potential to affect animal welfare. Caregivers are an integral part of the chimpanzee social network. Compassion fatigue affects the caregiver’s attitude, this could in turn affect the relationship and degrade the experience of care for captive chimpanzees. Compassion fatigue can be mitigated with professional development, mindfulness training, interrelationships among staff, and specialized training. This preliminary assessment indicates the work ahead is educating caregivers about compassion fatigue and implementing procedures in sanctuaries to mitigate burnout and secondary traumatic stress.
... 5,6 The recent challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic have also highlighted the need for better support to meet the mental and physical health needs of staff working with laboratory animals. 7,8 Therefore, further interventions to promote a supportive, empathetic working environment and nurture a culture of care that supports both staff and animal wellbeing are clearly necessary. ...
Full-text available
Nurturing a culture of care remains a key strategy and needs to be well integrated in the education programmes for laboratory animal professionals. Addressing attitudes is a complex task that must ensure reflective learning approaches. Teaching strategies must facilitate a safe space to talk openly about emotions and caring responsibilities. We reflect on two training initiatives focusing on culture of care. Firstly, the ‘Care-full Stories’ tool, which uses fictionalised prompts (storytelling) to encourage participants to share their own stories from working in animal research. Feedback on its impact on establishing a safe space for sharing experiences and the importance of appreciating diverse perspectives between staff is discussed. Secondly, we provide feedback on the development of training approaches on animal research integrity and culture of care with low- middle-income international communities. Strategic targets addressing the multicultural diversity of the communities, recognising their specific needs and their access to resources, must be well defined. It is important to acknowledge the interconnection between people, animals and their shared natural environment when defining the culture of care concept and addressing the teaching approaches. We discuss both the positive outcomes and challenges of these two learning experiences to support innovation when planning tools for teaching culture of care. Accounting for ‘how’ and ‘where’ the training will be delivered remains key to its successful uptake and local sustainability. Supporting improved educational tools to ascertain why caring has an impact on our professional lives will have a direct impact on the wellbeing of laboratory animal professionals worldwide.
... More broadly, humans and other social mammals rely greatly on emotion management to manoeuvre, for example, myriad cultural, interpersonal, personal, societal, and work-related interactions (i.e. de Waal 2019). A recognition of this predominantly within animal labour studies has initiated an increase of academic interest on interspecies emotional labour in recent years (see Coulter 2020;Dashper 2019;Taylor and Fraser 2019;Tremoleda and Kerton 2020;Macpherson-Mayor, Ba, and Van Daalen-Smith 2020;Taylor 2010). ...
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This paper presents the importance of the informed and nuanced distinction and use of the terms “emotion work” and “emotional labour” when referring to interspecies work. When emotional labour is acknowledged as a professional skill across species, two realities can be recognised and therefore acted upon. Firstly, it clarifies that emotional labour is performed by workers with formal jobs during working hours. By extension, the second reality arises, that emotional labour is a professional skill requiring preparation, education, and ongoing support. Using the terms emotion work and emotional labour muddies and weakens this argument. This paper rests at the intersection of emotion management and animal labour studies, two fields that have thus far predominantly run parallel, despite a critical need for their interdisciplinary engagement.
... In the same way, the relationship between laboratory animals and those who work with them has an overwhelming impact on emotional health. This emotional impact is exacerbated by the responsibilities of working with other sentient beings and how best to ensure their wellbeing following interventions that can cause certain degrees of harm or distress [9]. ...
Full-text available
Many workers contribute to the success of animal welfare and study outcomes in biomedical research. However, the professional quality of life (ProQoL) of those who work with laboratory animals has not been explored in Spain. To this end, we adapted the ProQoL scale to the Spanish population working with laboratory animals. Participants were contacted by email and asked to complete an anonymous on-line questionnaire. The study comprised a total of 498 participants, 12.4% welfare officers/veterinarians, 19.5% caretaker/technicians, 13.9% principal investigators, 20.7% investigators, 13.6% research technicians, and 19.9% PhD students. The adapted scale revealed very good reliability and internal validity, providing information about two different sub-scales, compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue. Animal facility personnel showed higher total ProQoL and compassion satisfaction scores than researchers; PhD students showed the lowest scores. Thus, our results indicate that job category is a contributing factor in perceived professional quality of life. We observed that compassion satisfaction is negatively associated with the perceived animal stress/pain. Participants reporting poorer compassion satisfaction also reported lower social-support scores. Overall, our ProQoL scale is a useful tool for analyzing the professional quality of life in the Spanish population, and may help to design future interventions to improve workplace wellbeing in Spain and other Spanish-speaking populations.
... In the same way, the interaction with laboratory animals has an overwhelming impact on the emotional health of the staff. This emotional impact is exacerbated by the responsibilities of working with other sentient beings and determining how best to ensure their wellbeing, particularly following interventions that cause a certain degree of harm or distress [20]. A recent study showed that the professional quality of life of laboratory animal personnel is associated with animal stress/pain, enrichment diversity/frequency, euthanasia method and control, and social support [21]. ...
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Replacement, reduction and refinement, the 3R principles, provide a framework to minimize the use and suffering of animals in science. In this context, we aimed to determine the actual perception that individuals working with laboratory rodents in biomedical research have on animal welfare and on their interaction with the animals, as well as how they perceive its impact on their social relations. To this end, we designed an anonymous on-line survey for people working with rodents, at three responsibility levels, in Spain. Of the 356 participants, 239 were women (67 %); 263 were researchers (74 %), and 93 animal facility staff (26 %), of which 55 were caretakers/technicians (15 %), and 38 welfare officer/veterinarians (11 %). Animal facility staff indicated environmental enrichment to be a universal practice. About half of the participants reported that, in their opinion, animals suffer “little to none” or “minor” stress and pain. Animal caretakers/technicians and researchers perceived higher levels of stress and pain than welfare officers/veterinarians. Participants judged decapitation the most unpleasant method to kill rodents, whereas anaesthetic overdose was the least one. A sizable proportion − 21 % of animal caretakers/technicians and 11.4 % of researchers - stated that they were never given the choice not to euthanize the rodents they work with. Overall, women reported higher interactions with animals than men. Nevertheless, we could detect a significant correlation between time spent with the animals and interaction scores. Notably, 80 % of animal facility staff and 92 % of researchers rarely talked about their work with laboratory rodents with people outside their inner social circle. Overall, the participants showed high awareness and sensitivity to rodent wellbeing; animal facility staff reported a similar perception on welfare questions, independently of their category, while researchers, who spent less time with the animals, showed less awareness and manifested lower human-animal interaction and less social support. Regarding the perception on social acceptance of laboratory animal work, all groups were cautious and rarely talked about their job, suggesting that it is considered a sensitive issue in Spain.
... ECRs of other disciplines for instance questioned whether changing research focus from 'non-essential' to pandemic research is necessary for career progress in this new reality (Denfeld et al., 2020), and ABW researchers might worry that their field does not offer the opportunity to adapt to this new emergent research focus. Besides, the cessation of experiments resulted in the culling of laboratory animals (Nowogrodzki, 2020;Tremoleda and Kerton, 2020), and Covid-19 had a devastating impact on farm animals' welfare (Marchant-Forde and Boyle, 2020), which could have presented an emotional burden to researchers. Such emotional hardships, together with research concerns such as working with some animal models that will take time and money to re-establish, might have reduced resilience of ABW respondents, and contributed to their greater concerns about the future. ...
With the disruption of nonessential research due to the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers faced unexpected changes in their work and personal life. We assessed what challenges researchers encountered during lockdown and whether gender, career level, discipline, and job-permanency influenced their experiences (negative and positive), thereby collecting empirical material which could provide valuable information for future mentoring/supporting practices. Data were collected between July-August 2020 via an online-survey, and answers from 210 respondents (78% female, 21% male, 1% non-disclosed gender) working in Animal Behaviour and Welfare (ABW, 57%), other biological sciences (37%) or social sciences (6%) were analysed. Respondents were post-graduate students (35%), research associates (35%), and professors (22%) or classified as ‘other’ (8%), and overall fixed-term (55%) and permanent (45%) jobholders. We expected that early career researchers, non-permanent jobholders, and female respondents would report more challenges/less positive experiences during lockdown. Due to the widespread impact of the pandemic, we predicted no effect of academic disciplines. We found great inter-individual difference in the experiences reported by the respondents, with some reporting adaptation to a new routine within a week (31% of the respondents) and/or greater efficiency working from home (19%) while others felt less efficient working from home and/or experienced a greater imbalance towards work (30%) and/or increased personal responsibilities (24%). The most commonly reported challenges were the lack of informal contact with colleagues (63%), a loss of focus due to worry or stress (53%) and/or unsuitable working environments (47%). Postgraduate students, research associates, non-permanent jobholders and ABW researchers reported more work-related challenges (p = from 0.03 to <0.0001) and were more likely to worry about the future (p = from 0.0002 to <0.0001) than other career levels, permanent jobholders, and researchers from other disciplines respectively. We found no gender effect (p = from 0.006 [NS due to Benjamini-Liu correction for multiple comparisons, 24 metrics tested] to 1.000), except that female respondents reported more personal changes affecting their ability to work than male respondents (p = 0.037). On a positive note, most respondents (83%) perceived positive changes during lockdown and 60% reported one or more coping strategies during lockdown, with exercising/outdoor activities and interacting with family/friends most commonly reported. Based on our findings, we provide recommendations for overcoming the reported Covid-19-related challenges which could further deliver valuable guidance for supporting/mentoring schemes and activities fostering a more resilient research community.
Laboratory animal professionals (LAP) are faced with various situations and tasks influencing their mental well-being. A systematic review has been conducted to investigate whether there are specific stressors for LAP and which moderators are relevant for the development of psychological strain. A comprehensive search following PRISMA Guidelines was carried out in June 2021. Results include 12 studies and have been summarized qualitatively in narrative synthesis and tabular presentation. Available literature indicates that LAP are facing stressors but does not allow for conclusions on specific stressful job duties other than euthanasia. Signs of strain are present in LAP. Specifically, participants in qualitative studies reported acute symptoms, while chronic manifestations were in focus in quantitative studies. Although a wide variety of moderating factors have been investigated, only social support has been rated as relevant by multiple qualitative and quantitative studies without contrasting results. According to current data, there is a risk for psychological strain in LAP. However, there is limited understanding of specific stressors and data on moderators is diverse. Further studies that focus on domain-specific knowledge and clearly distinguish stressors from moderators are necessary to set up institutional programmes addressing psychological strain in LAP.
Compassion Fatigue (CF) is commonly observed in professions associated with human and animal care. The COVID-19 pandemic compelled laboratory animal research institutions to implement new work practices in order to maintain essential animal care operations. These modifications ranged from shift changes to last-resort measures, such as culling animal colonies, to accommodate reduced staffing. Such changes could cause personnel to experience increased stress, isolation, and helplessness—all of which can increase CF risk. In the current study, 200 persons involved with animal research completed an online survey to gauge whether CF among laboratory animal personnel had increased during the pandemic. The survey examined professional quality of life, self-assessed levels of CF, institutional changes, perceived changes in animal welfare, and institutional measures intended to alleviate CF. A total of 86% of participants had experienced CF at some point in their career, with 41% experiencing a CF event (new or worsening symptoms of CF) during the pandemic. In addition, 90% of participants who reported a CF event also reported subsequent effects on their personal or professional lives. Health, employment, and animal-related stress that arose due to the pandemic were all found to influence CF scores significantly. Although 96% of respondents were considered essential workers, 67% did not feel as valued for their work as other essential personnel. Furthermore, 88% of personnel responsible for the euthanasia of healthy animals who experienced a CF event reported that CF also affected their personal life, professional life, or both, and 78% responded that interventions from internal CF programs or leadership did not help to alleviate symptoms of CF. The COVID-19 pandemic and resultant institutional changes will likely have lasting effects on persons and organizations. By determining and subsequently mitigating sources of CF, we can better assist the laboratory animal community during future crises.
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This review is designed to assist both individuals and organizations involved in animal-based research to understand andappreciate the importance and potential risks of compassion fatigue and euthanasia stress. We reviewed current literatureregarding compassion fatigue and euthanasia stress as they relate to the laboratory animal science community. Definitions, recognition, and mitigation steps are clarified. We offer educational and mitigation advice and present needs for future research on these topics that is related directly to the laboratory animal science community.
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The biomedical industry relies on the skills of Animal Technologists(ATs) to put laboratory animal welfare into practice. This is the first study to explore how this is achieved in relation to their participation in implementing refinement and reduction, two of the three key guiding ethical principles––the “3Rs”––of what is deemed to be humane animal experimentation. The interpretative approach contributes to emerging work within the social sciences and humanities exploring care and ethics in practice. Based on qualitative analysis of participant observation within animal research facilities in UK universities, in-depth interviews with Animal Technologists, facility managers and other stakeholders, and analysis of regulatory guidelines, we draw a contrast between the minimum required of ATs by law and how their care work not only meets, but often exceeds these requirements. We outline how ATs constitute a key source of innovation and insight into the refinement of animal care and the reduction of animal use, hitherto not formally acknowledged. Exploring AT care work as an example of ethics in practice makes an original contribution to broader debates within healthcare and animal welfare about how technology, regulation and behavior can foster and sustain a culture of care. <br/
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Background —The study of occupational stress and compassion fatigue in personnel working in animal-related occupations has gained momentum over the last decade. However, there remains incongruence in understanding what is currently termed compassion fatigue and the associated unique contributory factors. Furthermore, there is minimal established evidence of the likely influence of these conditions on the health and well-being of individuals working in various animal-related occupations. Objective —To assess currently available evidence and terminology regarding occupational stress and compassion fatigue in personnel working in animal shelters, veterinary clinics, and biomedical research facilities. Data Sources —Studies were identified by searching the following electronic databases with no publication date restrictions: ProQuest Research Library, ProQuest Social Science Journals, PsycARTICLES, Web of Science, Science Direct, Scopus, PsychINFO databases, and Google Scholar. Search terms included (euthanasia AND animals) OR (compassion fatigue AND animals) OR (occupational stress AND animals). Study Appraisal and Synthesis —Only articles published in English in peer-reviewed journals that included use of quantitative or qualitative techniques to investigate the incidence of occupational stress or compassion fatigue in the veterinary profession or animal-related occupations were included. On the basis of predefined criteria, 1 author extracted articles, and the data set was then independently reviewed by the other 2 authors. Results —12 articles met the selection criteria and included a variety of study designs and methods of data analysis. Seven studies evaluated animal shelter personnel, with the remainder evaluating veterinary nurses and technicians (2), biomedical research technicians (1), and personnel in multiple animal-related occupations (2). There was a lack of consistent terminology and agreed definitions for the articles reviewed. Personnel directly engaged in euthanasia reported significantly higher levels of work stress and lower levels of job satisfaction, which may have resulted in higher employee turnover, psychological distress, and other stress-related conditions. Limitations and Conclusions —Results of this review suggested a high incidence of occupational stress and euthanasia-related strain in animal care personnel. The disparity of nomenclature and heterogeneity of research methods may contribute to general misunderstanding and confusion and impede the ability to generate high-quality evidence regarding the unique stressors experienced by personnel working with animals. The present systematic review provided insufficient foundation from which to identify consistent causal factors and outcomes to use as a basis for development of evidence-based stress management programs, and it highlights the need for further research.
There are over 9,000 extant species of bird. All belong to the Class Aves, which is characterised by the presence of feathers and oviparity (egg-laying). Birds are vertebrate, endothermic (“warm-blooded”) animals with a well-developed central and peripheral nervous system; all species have many features in common with one another, but there are also important differences between them.
In this chapter, we discuss the role of empathy as the main precursor for prosocial behavior, taking perspectives that span from social and developmental psychology to social neuroscience. We begin by introducing compassion fatigue in caregivers as a form of pathological altruism. We move on to introduce such relevant concepts as empathy, compassion, empathic concern, and distress; we then review relevant empirical findings from social and developmental psychology and social neuroscience. Finally, we propose a new integrative model that suggests that the term compassion fatigue should be replaced by the term empathic distress fatigue to more accurately account for symptoms of withdrawal and burnout. We conclude by outlining potential ways to circumvent the downside of too much empathy.
Attitudes to animal research in
  • Mori Ipsos
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Emotional Dissonance among UK Animal Technologists: Evidence, Impact and Management Implications
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Davies, K. Emotional Dissonance among UK Animal Technologists: Evidence, Impact and Management Implications. PhD Thesis. (2013). [Accessed July 2020]
Communication and the Culture of Care
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  • K Davies
  • D Lewis
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