Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sweet Medicine Rituals

From Jeff Ely:
Subjects were given a sugar pill. They were told it was a sugar pill. They were told that sugar pills are not medicine. And yet they had better outcomes than the control group who were not treated at all.
Click through to read more about the study he describes. Here's an interesting quote from the article that Ely links:
This isn’t entirely new. In 1965, Lee Park and Lino Covi asked 15 neurotic patients at a psychiatric clinic if they wanted to try a sugar pill that could help them, even though it had no actual medicine. The patients agreed and the pills helped to reduce their symptoms. Kaptchuk’s trials extends upon that historical study by adding a control group.
And, this:
Ernst isn’t convinced. He says, “The effect size is probably too small to be clinically relevant. [It] is unlikely to be of practical use.” To him, the results are interesting “mostly from a theoretical point of view”. But Kaptchuk thinks that the effect he saw is “clinically meaningful”, and comparable to some drugs being tested for IBS such as alosetron.

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