Thursday, 11 February 2010

The placebo effect

Ben Goldacre, medical doctor, journalist and blogger at Bad Science, gives an easy-to-follow explanation of the placebo effect. He also touches on the ethical problems of using placebos as treatment.

via Pharyngula.


dave hambidge said...

I got into terrible trouble for using a placebo on a psychy patient in the mid 1990's.

She was a repetitive overdoser, taking excess of anything to seek attention and admission to the local DGH who were completely pissed off with her.

I persuaded the pharmacy to locate some old talcum powder placebo tablets, gave them a grand sounding name and sent her off with a supply. I told the local A+E, just in case, of my skullduggery. Damn me, she was taken to a different hospital after the inevitable O/D at a weekend who contacted the poisons unit at Guy's Hopsital for advice.

They of course hadn't a clue, and the phone bollocking I got from their senior officer on the Monday was probably justified. Heyho!

Andy Holroyd said...

Psychological problems must often be difficult to aid and I cannot fault your decision to prescribe something harmless in that case. The reaction of the patient was a refection of a deeper problem, I guess.

The guys at Guy's must have been running in ever decreasing circle though :)

dave hambidge said...

By the venom of the bollocking, I think they had disappeared up their own backsides!