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NEJM Article says placebo effect small

Posted by Jane D on May 24, 2001, at 11:31:51

The NEJM just published an article claiming that the placebo effect, where you get better only because you believe you will, is actually very small.

If I understand it correctly, the authors looked at a number of studies that included a control group that knew they were not being treated as well as the placebo group and found no difference in measurable things like blood pressure and only a small difference in things like pain that depended on the subjects report. Subjects that were not treated did get better but it happened whether or not they thought they were being treated meaning it was caused by random ups and downs of the illness, not power of suggestion.

This fits with my experience. I have believed very strongly in drugs that did not work and gotten great relief from one that I expected nothing from. I've also been slightly offended by the implied suggestion that I couldn't tell what worked for me and what didn't.

Any comments?


There is a description of the article on the NY Times web site at
(registration required but free and immediate)

and the abstract is at
(full text only for subscribers, alas)




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