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Med Sci (Paris). 2019 Aug-Sep;35(8-9):674-681. doi: 10.1051/medsci/2019127. Epub 2019 Sep 18.

[Use of placebo in French hospitals: data from polyvalent medicine units].

[Article in French; Abstract available in French from the publisher]

Author information

Faculté de Santé, Université de Paris, 4, avenue de l'Observatoire, 75006 Paris, France. - Unité de recherche clinique URC28, Groupement des Hôpitaux Publics Euréliens, Dreux, France.
Fédération francophone de médecine polyvalente, Unité de médecine polyvalente, Centre hospitalier Victor Jousselin, 44, avenue J.F. Kennedy, 28100 Dreux, France.
UFR Biomédicales, CNRS UMR8002, Université de Paris, 45, rue des Saints Pères, 75006 Paris, France.


in English, French

A placebo drug is defined as a treatment without any specific pharmacological efficacy, that works when the patient thinks to receive an active treatment, through a psychological and physiological mechanism. This study aimed to evaluate the use of placebo in French hospitals, in Polyvalent Medicine units. A questionnaire comprising 15 items was sent to 372 units. The analysis of 153 responses was conducted from dynamic crosstabs in Excel and using the R software available online. The survey confirmed that the use of placebos in hospital is frequent, with nearly 2/3 of professionals answering the questionnaire declared to use it. The oral capsule is the most commonly used form. Placebo is mainly administered at night, in case of pain, insomnia or anxiety, to so-called "difficult" patients. Placebo is not always given after medical prescription. In most cases, patients are not informed that they receive a placebo. The majority of professionals believed in the placebo effect but considered to be insufficiently informed and trained in the use of placebo in current practice. Although the placebo effect is now demonstrated, ethical and legal considerations recommend placebo treatment only on medical prescription, with the prior information of the patient. The placebo could be used as complementary therapy to conventional treatment in the cases of this therapeutic effectiveness has been demonstrated. Professionals should be trained in the use of placebo in order to avoid nocebo effect and potentiate beneficial effects of placebo.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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