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Placebo Prescriptions More Common Than Expected

Placebo Prescriptions More Common Than ExpectedA provocative new study finds that 20 percent of physicians — including psychiatrists — have prescribed a placebo.

Amir Raz, Ph.D., a McGill University psychiatry professor, developed a survey given to professionals employed in Canadian medical schools.

Raz discovered an even higher proportion of psychiatrists (more than 35 per cent) reported prescribing subtherapeutic doses of medication (that is, doses that are below, sometimes considerably below, the minimum recommended therapeutic level) to treat their patients.

Prescribing pseudoplacebos – treatments that are active in principle, but that are unlikely to be effective for the condition being treated, e.g., using vitamins to treat chronic insomnia – is more widespread than once thought, according to the survey.

The survey, which was also designed to explore attitudes toward placebo use, found that the majority of responding psychiatrists (more than 60 per cent) believe that placebos can have therapeutic effects. This is a significantly higher proportion than other medical practitioners.

“Psychiatrists seem to place more value in the influence placebos wield on the mind and body,” said Raz. Only 2 per cent of those psychiatrists believe that placebos have no clinical benefit at all.

“While most physicians probably appreciate the clinical merits of placebos, limited guidelines and scientific knowledge, as well as ethical considerations, impede open discussion about the best way we may want re-introduce placebos into the medical milieu,” Raz said. “This survey provides a valuable starting point for further investigations into Canadian physicians’ attitudes towards and use of placebos.”

Source: McGill University

Placebo Prescriptions More Common Than Expected

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Placebo Prescriptions More Common Than Expected. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 15, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2011/05/13/placebo-prescriptions-more-common-than-expected/26165.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.