Placebo effect

From ArticleWorld

When a patient is given a sugar pill instead of a pill containing medication, but believes that the pill is of the latter type and should work in alleviating the problem and subsequently reports that that is the case, then this is referred to as the placebo effect. By believing in the treatment , the symptoms of ill health abate despite the fact that no treatment containing pharmacological properties was administered.

New drugs are only approved after placebo-controlled studies have been carried out. Both patients and doctors are unaware of who receives a placebo and who receives medication in this type of trial to avoid bias in expectations and it must be proven that the effect of the new drug is greater than that of the placebo.

A myth?

It has long been stated in medical literature that the placebo effect is successful to about 35%. However, on investigating which studies actually reported this kind of statistic, researchers traced one study carried out in 1955 which reviewed only a dozen studies and came up with this figure. Since then it had been referenced as a reference as a reference and so on.

Modern research

Upon more modern research into the phenomenon, it was found that when three groups are taken into account – one receiving the medication, one receiving the placebo and the third receiving neither the one nor the other – it appeared that the placebo group reported much the same improvement as the group which received neither.

This may be able to be explained when one considers that some diseases are of a cyclical nature or perhaps the illness has already run its course and so ends naturally. It has been advocated therefore that more research needs to be done before conclusions can be drawn about the existence of the placebo effect.