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Salud mental

versão impressa ISSN 0185-3325


PELLICER, Francisco. Bioethical guidelines for the study of chronic pain in animals: A paradox?. Salud Ment [online]. 2007, vol.30, n.6, pp.20-24. ISSN 0185-3325.

The study of nociception in animals is a biomedical research field directly implicated with an ethical framework. In this work I will refer to the ethical considerations we must bear in mind when dealing with experimental approaches in animals used for the study of normal -physiological- and abnormal -pathological-mechanisms related to what humans denote as pain. In fact, this implies a paradox for, if we are to comply with international bioethical guidelines, we have to show that our research animals are not subject to suffering or pain during the experimental procedures or as a consequence of them. Therefore, the use of procedures or agents to withdraw suffering or pain would intrinsically cancel the mechanisms which are the object of our study. How can we study pain without causing it? In some way, this implies the transgression of the ethical code of a society claiming to be more modern and civilized and which demands and promotes human well-being; this entails essentially a life without pain.

The analysis of these problems needs several platforms or levels. The first level is the social one, where society plays various roles not only as a defender of animal rights, but also as a victim within itself or related fellow creatures of long-term pain suffering or that associated with terminal diseases. Secondly, an academic platform comprising thinkers of all the related disciplines in this area and, finally, a platform constituted by peer judges and experts dealing exactly with a specific bioethical problem.

In this sense, the concrete proposal here is to incorporate society and make it share responsibility with the afore mentioned platforms, into a collegiate body provided with bioethical decision capacity in relation to the development of projects where nociception research is undertaken.

We are faced with a problem of social shared responsibility between the scientific and general communities, having solutions subject of being improved by means of rational approaches and avoiding any radical positions, regardless of its scientific appearance or antivivisection resemblance.

Palavras-chave : Pain; bioethics; chronic nociception; animal models.

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