Cohen, S., Beths, T. 2020. Grimace scores: Tools to support the identification of pain in mammals used in research. Animals 10(10), 1726.
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.