Placebo Effect

Posted on March 1, 2008  Comments (0)

Don’t laugh, sugar pills are the future

In fact the new study added nothing (and it was ridiculously badly reported): we already knew that antidepressants perform only marginally better than placebo, and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) guidelines has actively advised against using them in milder depression since 2004. But the more interesting questions are around placebo.

Another study from 2002 looked at 75 trials of antidepressants over the past 20 years, but looked only at the response in the placebo arms of the trials, and found that the response to placebo has increased significantly in recent years (as has the response to medication): perhaps our expectations of those drugs have increased, or perhaps, conversely to our earlier example, the trial designs have become systematically more flattering. I’m giving you tenuous data, on an interesting area, because I know you’re adult enough to cope with ambiguity.

Related: Placebo Response in Studies of Major DepressionAn Exploration of Neurotic Patients’ Responses to Placebo When Its Inert Content Is DisclosedDiscussing Medical Study ResultsWhy Most Published Research Findings Are False

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