Related topics: patients · diabetes · women · clinical trials

To appreciate its power, think of design as a drug

The search for some concoction or contraption to improve our performance at work is nothing new. Lawyers, bankers and other professionals have famously used performance-enhancing drugs to gain a competitive advantage.

Treatment for dogs alleviates fear of noisy fireworks

With Bonfire Night approaching, many dogs suffer anxiety and fear from the loud bangs and explosions of firework displays. A study published by Veterinary Record shows how a medicinal treatment can help alleviate common fear ...

Why expensive wine appears to taste better

Price labels influence our liking of wine: The same wine tastes better to participants when it is labeled with a higher price tag. Scientists from the INSEAD Business School and the University of Bonn have discovered that ...

Can performance brands cause a placebo effect?

From the middle-school child considering the premier brands of soccer shoes, to the college graduate weighing which graduate test prep course to take, a common marketing message from consumer brands is "you will perform better ...

Countering the caregiver placebo effect

How do you know that your pet is benefiting from its pain medication? A new clinical trial design from North Carolina State University researchers could help overcome pet owners' unconscious observation bias and determine ...

New insights into placebo effect

(—Mathematical models developed by scientists at the University of Bristol are providing new insights into why the placebo effect exists and when it should occur. Their research is published today in the journal ...

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A placebo is a sham medical intervention. In one common placebo procedure, a patient is given an inert sugar pill, told that it may improve his/her condition, but not told that it is in fact inert. Such an intervention may cause the patient to believe the treatment will change his/her condition; and this belief does indeed sometimes have a therapeutic effect, causing the patient's condition to improve. This phenomenon is known as the placebo effect.

Placebos are widely used in medicine, and the placebo effect is a pervasive phenomenon; in fact, it is part of the response to any active medication. However, the deceptive nature of the placebo creates tension between the Hippocratic Oath and the honesty of the doctor-patient relationship. The placebo effect points to the importance of perception and the brain's role in physical health.

Since the publication of Henry K. Beecher's The Powerful Placebo in 1955 the phenomenon has been considered to have clinically important effects. This view was notably challenged when in 2001 a systematic review of clinical trials concluded that there was no evidence of clinically important effects, except perhaps in the treatment of pain and continuous subjective outcomes. The article received a flurry of criticism, but the authors later published a Cochrane review with similar conclusions. Most studies have attributed the difference from baseline till the end of the trial to a placebo effect, but the reviewers examined studies which had both placebo and untreated groups in order to distinguish the placebo effect from the natural progression of the disease.

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