In animal experiments, blinding is a methodological strategy to reduce the risk that scientists, animal care staff, or other staff involved in the research may consciously or subconsciously influence the outcome. Lack of masking has been shown to correlate with an overestimation of treatment efficacy and false positive findings. The authors conducted exploratory interviews across academic and a commercial setting to discuss the implementation of masking at four stages of the experiment: during allocation and intervention, during the conduct of the experiment, during the outcome assessment, and during the data analysis. The objective was to explore the awareness, engagement, perceptions, and the barriers to implementing masking in animal experiments. The authors found examples of excellent practice but also areas where masking was rarely implemented. Significant barriers arose from the operational and informatic systems implemented. These systems have prioritised the management of welfare without considering how to allow researchers to use masking in their experiments. For some experiments, there was a conflict between the management of welfare for an individual animal versus delivering a robust experiment where all animals are treated in the same manner. The authors also identified other challenges related to the level of knowledge on the purpose of masking or the implementation and the work culture. The exploration of these issues provides insight into how the scientific community can identify the most significant barriers in a given research environment. In this article, the authors offer practical solutions to enable researchers to implement masking as standard. To move forward, the individual scientists to embrace the use of masking as well as the facility managers and institutes are needed to engage and provide a framework that supports the scientists.

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