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Eval Health Prof. 2003 Jun;26(2):153-65.

The use of placebo interventions in medical practice--a national questionnaire survey of Danish clinicians.

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  • 1Nordic Cochrane Centre, University of Copenhagen.


The authors sent a questionnaire to 772 randomly selected Danish clinicians and asked them about their use of placebo interventions. Sixty-five percent responded. Among the general practitioners, 86% (95% confidence interval 81-91) reported to have used placebo interventions at least once, and 48% (41-55) to have used placebo interventions more than ten times, within the last year. Hospital-based doctors and private specialists reported to have used placebo interventions less frequently (p < .001). The most important reason for the use of placebo interventions was to avoid a confrontation with the patient. Typical placebos were antibiotics for viral infections. Approximately 30% (28-36) of the clinicians believed in an effect of placebo interventions on objective outcomes, and 46% (42-50) found clinical placebo interventions generally ethically acceptable.

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