Placebo Effect

At the turn of the century, they called it “snake oil” and it cured what ailed you. Or did it? And what about modern-day pills and potions and medical treatments? Do they work? More often than not, it could be mind over body.

It’s a fact — Americans will try anything to feel better. But do all those pills and treatments really work? Now researchers say it may be largely in our minds.

Dr. Roberts, Medical Psychologist:
“It’s not much different than mother making chicken soup or rubbing your chest with Vicks or things of that sort.”

It’s known as the placebo effect. A placebo is a substance having no medicinal value. A landmark study in the 1950s revealed that one-third of all patients will improve whether or not they received a placebo or active treatment. But Dr. Roberts has found that number to be even higher. “Two-thirds is what I would say about, up to seventy percent.”

Dr. Roberts looked at studies of almost seven-thousand patients and various treatments. And they all had one thing in common. The treatments didn’t work. Nevertheless, two-thirds of these patients improved anyway.

Dr. Roberts:
“There are a tremendous number of treatments out there which are very expensive and which are probably not nearly as effective as they think they are.”

But why did these patients get better? Dr. Roberts says a lot has to do with the expectations of the patient and the caring relationship with his doctor.

Dr. Roberts:
“As we go into less expensive medicine, as we are planning to do apparently, they may if they’re not careful, lose some of the effectiveness that they actually have by virtue of their relationship with the patient.”

Even with all the high tech treatments of modern medicine, it seems the placebo effect is more powerful today than ever before. The placebo effect is also important in psychotherapy. With over 400 different kinds of psychotherapy, research has shown that no one therapy is more effective than any other. In most cases, two-thirds of patients will improve, says Dr. Roberts, if the patient and therapist believe in the outcome of treatment.

Source: Ivanhoe News

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