Placebo 101. In three minutes.

Occasionally, very occasionally, Heidi will show me something on youtube (or one of those Heidi-type sites) that is really very good. And this really is very good. The graphics are superb. The coverage of material is excellent. It is faithful to the evidence. It is engaging and it is narrated by an Australian.  These are all, in my view, excellent … [Read more...]

Acupuncture, some dodgy maths and a cracking review paper

I have a challenge for you. Imagine you’re in ancient China and you’ve had this idea that health and disease hang on the flow of energy through invisible energy pathways called meridians that can be manipulated by applying needles in certain specific points. How do you go about systematically validating this theory? How do you know where the points … [Read more...]

Placebo effect: now we can see it, but should we believe it?

Placebo effects are a great way to start a conversation, particularly if one is at a Clinical Trials Festival. Rather than being fascinated by the possibilities of the brain's internal capacities to influence its own outputs, some believe placebo effects are a nuisance and something to either ignored or removed. Well, as you will see from this … [Read more...]

The morality of magic kisses: Ethics and placebo in physiotherapy

When my daughter hurts herself, her placebo of choice is a “magic kiss”. This therapeutic intervention must be applied with care specific to the area of injury. Anecdotal evidence suggests that it is very effective. I use placebo freely at home but is it right to do this in the clinic? In a recent post I suggested that we can be more confident that … [Read more...]

What did you expect?

Hands-up who thinks a patient’s expectations influence how well they do in treatment? By Steve Kamper Nearly everyone? That’s no surprise. Research recently published by a group in the US reported on the relationship between expectation and outcome in a sample of back pain patients receiving physiotherapy. This is by no means the first time … [Read more...]

We Believe Because We Evolved That Way part two

Why we have a placebo effect - Part II By Peter Blanch continued.... Bruce Hood (Hood 2009) in his book “Supersense: why we believe in the unbelievable” makes a couple of quite pertinent points. He outlines a simple experiment he uses in his presentations where he presents to the audience ‘the pen’ (he admits to stretching the truth here) … [Read more...]

We Believe Because We Evolved That Way part one

Why we have a placebo effect - Part I By Peter Blanch For a long time now, I have stood with my feet precariously placed on two icebergs that sometimes slowly drift apart and sometimes drift back together again (obviously increasing and decreasing my sensation of precariousness).  The first iceberg is where I started as a clinician, with both … [Read more...]