Trick or treatment

March 24, 2010 at 11:09 am Leave a comment

Dr. Harriet Hall has a fascinating article on the placebo effect over at eSkeptic:

We not only know placebos “work,” we know there is a hierarchy of effectiveness:

  • Placebo surgery works better than placebo injections
  • Placebo injections work better than placebo pills
  • Sham acupuncture treatment works better than a placebo pill
  • Capsules work better than tablets
  • Big pills work better than small
  • The more doses a day, the better
  • The more expensive, the better
  • The color of the pill makes a difference
  • Telling the patient, “This will relieve your pain” works better than saying “This might help.”

Dr. Hall also discusses four factors that explain how the placebo effect works — expectancy, motivation, conditioning, and endogenous opiates. Also in the article, a section on whether animals respond to placebos, and a summary of the ethics of the matter.

In this great video, Dr. Ben Goldacre, author of Bad Science, explains the role of the placebo effect in medical research.


Entry filed under: think. Tags: , , , , , .

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Jason R. Atwood

I'm an avid trail runner and doctoral student at U.C. Berkeley who studies motivation and the relationship between the mind and body. This blog is a forum to share research, news, and musings about these topics of interest. More

Play is the beginning of knowledge.

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