Consideration of Alternatives

Investigators are required to conduct a search of at least two databases when a protocol involves working with lab animals and conducting research on animals. This search must find suitable alternatives to the use of animals, to prevent unintended and unnecessary duplication of research, and to substitute procedures that may cause more than momentary, slight pain or distress to the animals. This is an AWA requirement and is specified in the government principles for use and care of animals in the PHS policy. The results of the search are documented in a IACUC protocol submitted in Kuali. Alternatives can include non-animal models, procedures that cause less pain or distress, or non-mammalian models.  At least two (2) databases must be consulted that address the “3 R’s” – Replacement – substitute animal models with non-animal techniques or lower organisms; Reduction – minimized the number of animals used; and Refinement – use of techniques and procedures that reduce pain and distress.

The IACUC requires a literature search for “refinement” only if protocol procedures fall within USDA pain and stress categories E.  Examples include potentially painful or stressful procedures that are not relieved with anesthetics, analgesics and/or tranquilizer drugs. Withholding anesthesia/analgesia must be scientifically justified in writing and approved by the IACUC. Replacement and reduction search results must accompany all IACUC submissions. .

Investigators conducting wildlife/field research may find that using traditional databases for searching for alternatives may not produce results to satisfy the alternatives requirement. Several taxon-specific guidelines include species-specific references to provide references to include with an IACUC submission. These include:

Reference: Sample Wildlife Protocol – OLAW – NIH

Contact the ORPC at the time of protocol submission with questions about these requirement

ORPC has created a Literature Search for Alternatives worksheet to assist investigators with this process A variety of resources to complete the database search are on the UMBC Library site as well as the Animal Welfare Information Center. Please note that Medline, PubMed & Current Contents extract from the same database and should NOT be considered as two separate searches. A search must be completed within three (3) months of a protocol submission.

return to IACUC Protocol Creation Info