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Monash University Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences
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10 Apr 2016 91 Respondents
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By Amanda Lees
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POLL of the DAY (102): SHOULD PLACEBOS BE USED MORE?

POLL of the DAY (102): SHOULD PLACEBOS BE USED MORE?

The German Medical Association is recommending that health professionals make better use of placebo treatments. www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/Health/20110331/germany-placebos-110331/

The perspective, put forward by the professional body is that although placebos have been frown upon in the past, there is now evidence that in some situations, using placebos will produce better outcomes than pharmacological treatments.

More recent research, published earlier this year from Harvard university found that 'the placebo effect greatly enhanced pain relief in migraine sufferers who had the expectation they were getting an effective drug, compared to when they took the active drug with the incorrect label “placebo.” www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/the-placebo-effect-a-new-study-underscores...

'More surprising, however, is that the patients reported significant pain relief, compared to an untreated migraine attack, even when they knew they had swallowed nothing more than a sugar pill.'

'The American Medical Association considers the use of placebos without a patient’s consent unethical. In a 2010 report, the British Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee called the practice “bad medicine.” Considering its therapeutic potential, however, can a placebo play a role in good medicine?'

If they are effective in terms of beneficial health outcomes and are cheaper to produce, should medical professionals be making better use of placebos?

On the other hand can it be argued that patients have the right to be fully informed, irrespective of the likely outcome?

If treatment was found to be more effective when the patient was not informed and this outcome has then led the patient to reach more of their potential, has autonomy been created for the patient?

What do you think?

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It is proposed that doctors should increase their use of placebos