We will provide an Online Modular Learning Platform (OMLP) to improve the welfare of dogs and consequently the validity and reliability of data from their use in research and testing. The welfare of animals in scientific establishments is mediated by humans and we have previously demonstrated the impact of practices on welfare, behaviour, physiology and cardiology. Given the necessity of animal use as models we have a moral obligation to ensure that their welfare is optimised and their use results in valid and reliable scientific outcomes. Harmonisation of study outcomes between and within companies has proved challenging in animal research, particularly in multinational companies. There is a considerable need to provide science-based resources for training staff in order to address poor study outcomes. The successful translation of animal welfare research is dependent upon human behaviour change (HBC) interventions.
Using a participatory approach, which will allow us to gather qualitative and quantitative data from partner staff, we will assess motivation, barriers and limitations to behaviour and attitude change. We will use semi-structured interviews to gain insight into our partners' expertise to inform the design of the OMLP. Changes in practice will be assessed using Knowledge, Attitude and Practices surveys. The principles of HBC, underpinned by evidence-based theories, eg Theory of Behaviour Change, Self-efficacy Theory, will be embedded into the design of the resources to impact learners, stimulating practical and sustained animal welfare improvements.
Once launched, we will to assess longitudinally knowledge against learning outcomes, and changes in attitude and behaviour via surveys and assessments embedded in the platform. The design of the OMLP will provide an evidence base for learning resources rooted in the science of HBC which will lead to measurable improvements in Refinement and Reduction techniques applied to dogs in scientific research.