Friday, March 29, 2013

More Placebo effect

The Placebo effect is fairly interesting to me. I've probably blogged about it some before - but as most know it's a name given to the effect produced simply by giving people a "fake" treatment. It could be sugar pills. It could be a suggestion - like if you're told boys are expected to do better in math - they might. It could be the idea that you heard there's something in the water - and more people get sick - or even ideas of mass hysteria in cases. We seem to have a propensity to be able to "worry ourselves sick" as much as we can "expect ourselves to health." If given a placebo (fake treatment) - if the patient is told both of benefits and negative side effects - the patient will likely experience _both_ increased benefits and negative side effects of the fake treatment. Anyhow, the idea that our mental expectations influence outcomes and reality is quite interesting. And there's some data that the placebo effect is increasing over time. To the point that apparently it's becoming a problem for pharmaceutical companies when trying to show drug efficacy. Well, here's an interesting article discussion about a methodology pharmaceutical companies may start using to try to minimize the placebo effect. It sounds fishy to me, but is premised on the idea that some people may be more prone to placebos than others, and that perhaps placebo responders can be weeded out of clinical trials.

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