As patient advocates, Coetzee said, patient groups have to discuss animal research. As an organization that funds research, the National MS Society has a responsibility for effectively communicating this research to the community. The public can appreciate the nuances of animal research, he said, but communication is most effective when it is very brief and very focused. Coetzee suggested that scientists think in terms of headlines when preparing to discuss research. It is also important to pay attention to shifting approaches in media, especially social media.

BOX 6-1
Summary of Session Points

Scientists and Institutions

•   Investigators may be reluctant to engage the public and the media. Many investigators:

   o   fear that discussing their work involving animals will make them targets;

   o   do not see the benefit of engaging the public; and/or

   o   see the general press as biased.

•   Institutions could invest in training and equipping scientists to speak to the media and the public.

The Media

•   Building individual relationships with journalists and media might increase communication between the groups.

•   Education is not necessarily a responsibility of mainstream media.

•   Some media outlets seek to attract customers by earning a reputation for being trustworthy and accurate.

•   More could be done to increase dialogue about the use of animals in science.

Patient Groups

•  People living with disease can be the best advocates for disease prevention and cure.

•   Patient advocacy groups could serve an oversight role in scrutinizing the scientific value of projects using animals before choosing to fund them.

Engaging the Public

•  Public engagement and education can increase support for use of animals in research.

•   Communication may be most effective when it is brief and focused, with the role of animals mentioned incidentally.

SOURCE: Individual panelists and participants.



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