Reframing placebo in research and practice

Journal Article

By: Wayne B Jonas
Publication Name: Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci
Year: 2011

The terms 'placebo' and 'placebo effects' cause confusion among patients, practitioners and scientists. This confusion results in both the adoption of practices that have no evidence of specificity yet considerable risk (such as surgery for low back pain) or the elimination of clinical practices proven to facilitate healing because they are not 'better than placebo' (such as acupuncture for low back pain). In this article, I discuss these issues and introduce the concept of optimal healing environment as a framework for disentangling what is useful from placebo research for adopting into clinical practice in a manner that is ethical and evidence-based.

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