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Grimace Scores: Tools to Support the Identification of Pain in Mammals Used in Research

by Shari Cohen 1,* and Thierry Beths 2
1
Office of Research, Ethics, and Integrity, University of Melbourne, Melbourne 3010, Australia
2
Anesthesia and Veterinary Clinical Sciences, University of Melbourne, Melbourne 3010, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(10), 1726; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10101726
Received: 16 August 2020 / Revised: 15 September 2020 / Accepted: 16 September 2020 / Published: 23 September 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Refinements to Animal Models for Biomedical Research)
The ability to identify and assess pain is paramount in animal research to address the ‘refinement’ principle of the 3Rs (Reduction, Refinement, Replacement), satisfy public acceptability of animal use in research and address ethical and legal obligations. Many physiological, behavioural and physical pain assessments are commonly used, but all have their limitations. Grimace scales are a promising adjunctive behavioural pain assessment technique in some mammalian species used in research. This paper reviews the extant literature studying pain assessment techniques in general, and grimace scales specifically, in animal research. The results indicate that the grimace scale technique is simple and able to be used spontaneously at the ‘cage side’, is non-invasive in its application, highly repeatable, reliable between interobserver and intraobserver applications and easy to train and use. The use of grimace scales should be more frequently considered as an important parameter of interest in research and animal wellbeing. Further research into the use of grimace scales is required to develop scales for a wider range of animal species, increase applicability in studies specifically related to pain assessment and for further validation of the technique.
The 3Rs, Replacement, Reduction and Refinement, is a framework to ensure the ethical and justified use of animals in research. The implementation of refinements is required to alleviate and minimise the pain and suffering of animals in research. Public acceptability of animal use in research is contingent on satisfying ethical and legal obligations to provide pain relief along with humane endpoints. To fulfil this obligation, staff, researchers, veterinarians, and technicians must rapidly, accurately, efficiently and consistently identify, assess and act on signs of pain. This ability is paramount to uphold animal welfare, prevent undue suffering and mitigate possible negative impacts on research. Identification of pain may be based on indicators such as physiological, behavioural, or physical ones. Each has been used to develop different pain scoring systems with potential benefits and limitations in identifying and assessing pain. Grimace scores are a promising adjunctive behavioural technique in some mammalian species to identify and assess pain in research animals. The use of this method can be beneficial to animal welfare and research outcomes by identifying animals that may require alleviation of pain or humane intervention. This paper highlights the benefits, caveats, and potential applications of grimace scales. View Full-Text
Keywords: grimace scores; pain; laboratory animals; pain assessment grimace scores; pain; laboratory animals; pain assessment
MDPI and ACS Style

Cohen, S.; Beths, T. Grimace Scores: Tools to Support the Identification of Pain in Mammals Used in Research. Animals 2020, 10, 1726.

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