How should we assess the severity of procedures in experimental animals and the impact of refinements?


The regulations that control the use of animals in research require a classification of procedures according to their severity.

This classification requires investigators and ethics committees to take account of the nature of the procedures, and also their duration, and frequency. This implies that severity “stacks up” – an assumption that may not always be correct.

Research workers are also required to implement refinements to procedures, on the assumption that this should reduce their severity. All of these processes require that “severity” is assessed using some valid and consistent criteria. This is challenging.

This webinar, originally broadcast on May 20th 2020, examines the assumptions made when carrying out such assessments, particularly in respect to the impact of refinements on both severity classification and animal welfare. In addition, the potential impact of “positive” welfare measures was discussed.


Estimated review time: 1 hour

Q & A Session

Estimated review time: 15 minutes

About the Author

Webinar presented by Professor (Emeritus)  Paul A Flecknell, MA, VetMB, PhD, DECLAM, DLAS, DECVA, (Hon) DACLAM, FRSB, (Hon) FIAT, (Hon) FRCVS Newcastle University, and CEO of FLAIRE Consultants, U.K. Paul has over 40 years of experience in the care and welfare of animals. He has authored numerous scientific publications, books and book chapters and has an international reputation in this field. He worked as Director of a multi-species research facility for over 30 years and has extensive experience in the development and delivery of training and education in animal care and welfare. He has wide experience in advising on facility management and ethical issues. As head of the Pain and Animal Welfare Science (PAWS) group at Newcastle, he published over 150 scientific papers, reviews and book chapters in the field of analgesia and anaesthesia of laboratory animals.

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