24 May 2017

"Can I get a refill on these placebos?"

Physicians and nurses have known for decades that placebos can generate an observable beneficial therapeutic response.  A recent report offers confirmation:
Placebos have a reputation problem. It is widely believed they are only effective when those taking them are deceived into thinking they are taking real drugs. As such, prescribing dummy or fake treatments is unethical... A review of five studies, involving 260 patients, published last month found that “open-label” placebos – those that patients know contain no active medication – can improve symptoms in a range of conditions...

Last month, his group published a review of previous research that has compared the effects of giving patients open-label placebos with no treatment.
Note the term "open label," indicating that the placebos are described as such when given to the patient.  More at The Guardian.


  1. This would go some way to explain the persistence in belief in homeopathy.

  2. i remember reading somewhere of a trial that compared plain packaged open label placebos and open label placebos in fancy packaging. i.e. white box compared to colourful box with shiny accents. even though both groups knew they were taking a pill with no active ingredient, and both group showed some improvement in their medical condition, the fancy packaging was more than twice as effective.


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