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An endorsed product (albeit labeled placebo) is not a placebo

Posted by alanbf on 24 Dec 2010 at 20:19 GMT

The abstract of the article says, "Patients were randomized to either open-label placebo pills presented as “placebo pills made of an inert substance, like sugar pills, that have been shown in clinical studies to produce significant improvement in IBS symptoms through mind-body self-healing processes” or no-treatment controls with the same quality of interaction with providers." So they were told the stuff they were given WORKS. They were told to ignore the placebo label. So the observed difference is between no treatment and something subjects were told works (despite its label of placebo). Did they believe the label or their doctor?
It would have been interesting if they had a 3rd treatment group that got bottle labeled SymCalm that was endorsed in the same way the Placebo labeled product was.
An endorsed product (albeit labeled placebo) is not a placebo.

No competing interests declared.

RE: An endorsed product (albeit labeled placebo) is not a placebo

MMorrisson replied to alanbf on 27 Dec 2010 at 20:37 GMT

Isn't the point of this study to determine whether deception is needed for a placebo to work? In phrasing the description of the placebo that way, they were being honest about the composition and effects of the placebo. If they had said that the stuff they were given didn't work, that would have been dishonest. They key is that the recipients understand that there are no active ingredients and understand what that means. As far as I can tell, the authors did that.

No competing interests declared.