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BMJ. 2004 Oct 23;329(7472):944-6. Epub 2004 Sep 17.

Questionnaire survey on use of placebo.

Author information

  • 1Herzog Hospital and Hadassah School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, POB 35300, Jerusalem 91351, Israel.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To gauge the frequency and circumstances of use of placebo in clinical practice and the attitudes towards its use among those who administer it.

DESIGN:

Retrospective questionnaire.

SETTING:

Two large hospitals and various community clinics in the Jerusalem area.

PARTICIPANTS:

31 physicians working in hospital inpatient and outpatient departments, 31 head nurses working in hospital inpatient departments, and 27 family physicians working in community clinics.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Self report of frequency and circumstances of, and attitudes towards, use of placebo.

RESULTS:

Among the 89 respondents, 53 (60%) used placebos (95% confidence interval 49% to 70%). Among users, 33 (62%) prescribed a placebo as often as once a month or more; 36 (68%) told patients they were receiving actual medication; 15 (28%) considered that placebos were a diagnostic tool; and 48/51 (94%) reported that they found placebos generally or occasionally effective.

CONCLUSION:

Most practitioners questioned in this study continue to use placebos. Used wisely, placebos might have a legitimate place in therapeutics. Wider recognition of the practice and debate about its implications are imperative.

Comment in

PMID:
15377572
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC524103
Free PMC Article
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