An international expert on the “placebo effect” says with addiction and abuse of opioid prescription drugs on the rise, it may be time for doctors treating patients with chronic conditions or addictions to consider intermittently substituting substances like morphine with dummy pills.
With or without telling patients.
“Placebos are being used in routine medical practice now by many doctors in many circumstances, but the main goal is to reduce intake of drugs. If we are talking about narcotics and other drugs of abuse, the approach is, for example, give morphine on six consecutive days and then a placebo on the seventh day. There are three or four studies with good scientific approaches to this and in those three countries I mentioned, placebo prescribing is more common.”
Asked about the ethics of substituting pills, he said:
“If you want to reduce intake of certain drugs, why not? I think that’s perfectly ethical, but if you want to prescribe placebos so you aren’t bothered by hospital patients in the middle of the night, that’s a different situation.”
Benedetti told delegates that researchers now understand more about the psychosocial context for real drug or placebo treatment effects. Certain words spoken by the health professional (“This pill is really going to help you”), the rituals associated with treatment (such as needle injections) and other sensory experiences all influence whether patients have positive expectations of health improvement. Personality traits can be important factors in who responds to placebos; optimists are more susceptible to having a placebo response while skeptics may have a nil effect.
A leading surgeon reveals how doctors perform UNNECESSARY surgery to stop patients complaining.
A surgeon has admitted to performing a number of operations that don’t yield results due to a widespread acceptance of the procedure and to avoid patient complaints.
Ian Harris, a Sydney Orthopaedic surgeon, who works at a number of hospitals including the University of NSW, said he has performed surgeries on patients that don’t work, reported theSydney Morning Herald.
In a new book, ‘Surgery, The Ultimate Placebo’, Professor Harris has noted that the only benefits some surgeries provide is the ‘placebo effect’.
1. There are two processes going on, the placebo and the placebo effect.
2. Placebo effects are not caused by the object (e.g. the pill) or the procedure (e.g. an injection)
3. Much of what is considered to be placebo improvement may actually be patient report of improvement, without any actual physical improvement.
4. The patient’s inaccurate perception of a successful treatment in the therapeutic environment is also influenced by:
The natural course of the disease Concomitant treatments The Hawthorne effect Regression to the mean
5. The placebo effect is not “the power of positive thinking” or belief, hope, mind over matter or the mind healing the body
It’s bad news if you’re Icelandic or Australian. Over at I Fucking Love Science they point out that “the report only covered the pharmaceutical habits of “developed countries.” Also, the United States – the original “Prozac Nation” – did not feature in this particular set of data. Separate data has shown 10% of Americans are prescribed antidepressants, which would put them second on this graph. We should also note that this is per thousand people, not by the total number consumed.”
If a drug company treats a doctor to a nice lunch and a presentation on their newest products, is prescribing affected? Doctors generally think not, but the research evidence overwhelmingly says yes. And if these events do affect doctors’ decisions on patient care, should we be worried?
Couldn’t they just prescribe placebos? Of course not! Where’s the profit in that?
Placebo beats pill for all but most severely depressed, study shows.
“Antidepressants are little better than placebos except for in severely clinically depressed samples,” Johnson said. “The implication was that medical doctors are overprescribing antidepressants because most patients are not severely depressed.”
“A common operation for back pain is not only ineffective but often leads to complications, a former spinal surgeon is claiming in a new book. In Surgery, The Ultimate Placebo Ian Harris says that when spine fusion operations appear to work, it’s usually because of a placebo effect.” Full article here