Workshop – Pain and Distress (Nov 2023)


  • This workshop will be held from 27th – 30th November 2023 and delivered using a combination of pre-recorded webinars, “live” webinars and e-learning modules.
  • Course tutors will be Professor Paul Flecknell and Dr Matt Leach.
  • The workshop will be hosted on the Research Animal Training website.
  • The registration fee for the workshop is £250 GBP (approx. €300) and registration can be made at the bottom of this page.
  • The number of participants will be restricted so that the interactive sessions remain manageable.

This workshop is based on the in-person workshops held previously in Newcastle, UK and is aimed at animal technicians, veterinarians, research workers and others who want to improve their understanding of this topic. 


  • Participants will be required to review pre-recorded seminars and complete e-learning modules prior to attending a series of live sessions.
  • To assist in the scheduling of the pre-recorded materials, we present each of these as a series of shorter (15-30 minute) video sequences which can be viewed independently.
  • The e-learning modules are also broken up into a series of lessons so that participants can break and resume their studies at their convenience.
  • Live sessions will run from 15:00 (UK) time.


  • Over 5 hours of pre-recorded seminars.
  • Five live sessions, each of 45-60 minutes followed by a 15 minute Q & A.
  • Four e-learning modules (Recognition of pain and distress, Severity Assessment, Pain management and Pain Assessment).
  • Additional reading and reference material.
  • All pre-recorded content is available in advance of the workshop and a suggested timetable for completion will be provided.
  • Participants will be able to access all content (after its release date) for a period of 3 months.
  • Registration for the workshop also includes access to all of the other training materials on the RAT website.


The pre-recorded material and e-learning modules will be delivered via and the live sessions using the Zoom video platform ( We will also use Mentimeter ( and Padlet ( for the interactive sessions, and access to video clips for pain scoring via the Research Animal Training website.

Although not essential, it may be easier to have a smartphone as well as a laptop for the interactive sessions.

Topics Covered

What is pain and distress?

  • An introduction to what we know about pain and distress in people and animals and an explanation of some of the concepts relevant to assessing animal welfare.

Why we need to assess pain and distress, and how to do it

  • An overview of how methods of assessing pain and distress have evolved, and an up-to-date summary of the methods that can be used in a range of different species.                 

Cage-side methods of pain assessment

  • A series of live webinars which will enable participants to practice pain scoring techniques, focusing on assessing animal behaviour, assessing pain faces in rats and mice and assessing pain faces in non-rodent species.

Severity assessment, using scoresheets and refining procedures

  • A series of e-learning modules dealing with assessing the severity of procedures. They explain the legal, ethical and practical issues surrounding assessment of severity. The modules also include an explanation of prospective, ongoing and retrospective assessment of severity, and examples of severity assessments.

Pain, nociception and how analgesics work

  • How different types of analgesic act to reduce or eliminate pain with links to our understanding of nociception and pain in animals.

Analgesics – what to give, when and how

  • A review of the practicalities of managing pain in a research setting and a brief overview of pain management in non-mammalian species with additional information on analgesic use in larger mammals.

Using analgesics in a research environment – problems and pitfall

  • A review of some of the reasons for the low level of use of analgesics in research animals and how some of these barriers to effective pain relief can be overcome.

Post-operative care

  • An e-learning module outlining methods of reducing, avoiding or alleviating pain and distress by improving perioperative care, providing high standards of animal care, and by the refinement of research procedures.

Practical exercises in avoiding and minimising pain and distress

  • An interactive session to enable participants to apply all the information given during the workshop to “Refine” some examples of research techniques. This will be a longer session to allow for a more extensive final Q and A session

Registration for this workshop is now full.