1. Anderson, B. J., Woollard, G. A., & Holford, N. H. (2001, October). “Acetaminophen analgesia in children: Placebo effect and pain resolution after tonsillectomy.” Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s002280100367
Background: This article describes the effects of Acetaminophen analgesia and
placebo in children undergoing outpatient tonsillectomy. Acetaminophen is a brand of analgesic used to relieve pain. These children were randomly selected from a group of 9±3.0-year-olds with a weight of 37.9±16.6 kg. They were to respond with a pain score after taking either the drug or placebo after a certain period of time of 4-8 hours. The results showed that even in high dosage, the acetaminophen didn’t have much of an effect than a lower dosage of the same drug, and that it came with side effects such as nausea and vomiting. The placebo had a higher pain reduction than the acetaminophen. Even when combined, the pain reduction was less than the placebo effect by itself.
How I Used It: This article provided a case study in which placebos were used. I used the example of the acetaminophen and placebo trial to provide statistics and proof that placebos are better medicine than actual prescribed drugs.
2. Benedetti, F., Mayberg, H. S., & Christian S. Stohler, J. Z. (2005, November 09). “Neurobiological Mechanisms of the Placebo Effect.” Retrieved from http://www.jneurosci.org/content/25/45/10390.short
Background: For the placebo effect to actually work, patients must try different mechanisms. There should be some sort of expectation of clinical improvement and Pavlovian conditioning. This learning procedure is also known as classical conditioning in which a stimulus is only activated when a previously neutral stimulus occurs. Typically, placebos are used in studies that involve pain, but some have succeeded in topics such as the immune system, motor disorders, and depression. Basically, the Journal of Neuroscience digs into the simple neurobiological effect of the brain to expect a certain positive result when a placebo is involved.
How I Used It: This article gave me information on how placebos are much more effective when there is an expectancy of clinical improvement. It helped my point of stating that placebos work better if patients have the right mindset that they will actually work.
3. Bishop, F. L., Jacobson, E. E., Shaw, J. R., & Kaptchuk, T. J. (2012, January 18). “Scientific tools, fake treatments, or triggers for psychological healing: How clinical trial participants conceptualise placebos.” Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0277953612000160
Background: In clinical trials, placebos are a must so that there are no bias towards the results. There are many different perspectives patients have on placebos, but the ones that really matter are the ones that actually experience the effect. This article contains a study in which 12 people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) were interviewed 3 times on their conceptualization of placebos.
There were four ways in which the participants thought of placebos: “placebos are necessary for research; placebo effects are fake; placebo acupuncture is not real acupuncture; placebos have real effects mediated by psychological mechanisms.” The most positive outcome of this study was the fact that some of the patents thought that placebos were good psychological healing mechanisms. But the negative outcomes were how some of the participants saw placebo responders as “gullible.”
How I Used It: I used only the part of how many people conceptualize about placebos to add to the fact that there are different perspectives on why placebos work and don’t work. Given the results, it gave a clear picture that either patients believed placebos worked or didn’t work.
4. Boozang, K. M. (2002). “The therapeutic placebo: The case for patient deception.” Florida Law Review, 54(4), 687-746. Retrieved from
Background: The use of deception makes the therapeutic placebo seem like a myth and a real treatment. Florida Law Review believes that there should be no effect on one’s health. Some physicians believe placebos work and make their patients feel better, but they were not so sure how they worked. It goes on to talk about the relationship between the physician and patient, and how it’s affected by whether a placebo works on the patient or not. Proof of a powerful placebo will cause the medical world to question the practice of medicine.
How I Used It: I barely used this journal except for the sole fact to show how the practice of placebos became big and popular, and physicians started to advocate for the power of the placebo. It presented the different possibilities and opinions that can come out of placebos.
5. Kaptchuk, T. J., Friedlander, E., Kelley, J. M., Sanchez, M. N., Kokkotou, E., Singer, J. P., Lembo, A. J. (2010, December 22). “Placebos without Deception: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Irritable Bowel Syndrome.” Retrieved from https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0015591#references
Background: The treatment of placebos influences minor symptoms greatly only with the help of deception. Dr. Kaptchuk tests the results of open-label placebo versus a no-treatment control on patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). There were two groups who were randomly selected to do a three week trial. The one group were given an inert substance, like a sugar pill, to relieve symptoms of IBS, and the other group didn’t receive a treatment at all, but instead interaction with their providers that involved mind-body self-healing processes. The open-label placebo group produced higher scores than the no-treatment control.
How I Used It: Just like some of the other articles I used, this one gave me another example of when placebos were in a trial. Only this time, it was an open-label placebo meaning the patient knew that they were given a placebo, which is very counterintuitive, since it is thought to be that placebos only work with deception.
6. Marshall, M. (2016, June 23). “A placebo can work even when you know it’s a placebo.” (H. LeWine M.D., Ed.). Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/placebo-can-work-even-know-placebo-201607079926
Background: First, the article talks about what patients are given when getting fake treatment for their symptoms. Placebos may take the form of pills, injections, or procedures to test if the real treatment works just as well as the placebo. “To complicate matters, there is a documented ‘placebo effect,’ which means that some people actually respond to a placebo even though it shouldn’t have an effect on the body. This has been thought to be largely due to their beliefs or expectations that they are getting the real treatment and not the fake one.”
How I Used It: This article went along with the previous one about the IBS open-label placebo. It further described why it worked, and how open-label placebos may be a new strategy for health providers. I used this information to support the IBS trial so that my reader can have an explanation as to why open-label placebos are more effective.
7. Meeuwis, S. H., Van Middendorp, H., VeldHuijzen, D. S., Van Laarhoven, A. I. M., De houwer, J., Lavrijsen, A. P. M., & Evers, A. W. M. (2018). “Placebo Effects of Open-label Verbal Suggestions on Itch.” Acta Dermato-Venereologica, 98(2), 268–274. https://doi-org.ezproxy.rowan.edu/10.2340/00015555-2823
Background: Placebo effects are outcomes that positively affect the patient even when it is known they are taking a placebo in the form of an inert substance. “This proof-of-principle study investigated for the first time whether open-label placebo effects on itch can be induced by verbal suggestions alone. Ninety-two healthy volunteers were randomized to experimental (open-label suggestions) or control (no suggestions) groups.”
How I Used It: The link only provided me with an abstract of the report, but it was enough for me to put in my essay that even open-label placebo verbal treatment can give better results than a control group that received no verbal suggestions.
8. Miller, F. G., Wendler, D., & Swartzman, L. C. (2005). “Deception in Research on the Placebo Effect.” PLoS Medicine, 2(9), 853–859. https://doi-org.ezproxy.rowan.edu/10.1371/journal.pmed.0020262
Background: There are many mechanisms on how to go about a placebo treatment. The most positive one in patients is the one referred to as “response expectancies.”
Brain imaging techniques are being used to reveal the neurophysiological part of these expectations and the different mechanisms underlying placebo effects in many ways that depend on each individual. A National Institutes of Health requested applications that stated, “understanding how to enhance the therapeutic benefits of placebo effect in clinical practice has the potential to significantly improve healthcare.”
How I Used It: The article had many points about how the placebo works most effectively when patients expect an improvement out of the treatment. It supported my point about the effectiveness of a placebo.
9. Schaefer, M., Sahin, T., & Berstecher, B. (2018). “Why do open-label placebos work? A randomized controlled trial of an open-label placebo induction with and without extended information about the placebo effect in allergic rhinitis.” PLoS ONE, 13(3), 1–14. https://doi-org.ezproxy.rowan.edu/10.1371/journal.pone.0192758
Background: According to many studies, the placebo treatment influences the improvement of several symptoms. In some cases that we typically see, the use of deception is necessary for the placebo to work, but in recent studies, there was evidence that showed the positive results of open-label placebos. In the trial of the symptoms in allergic rhinitis, the results revealed that open-label placebos improved the allergic symptoms more than the control group that received nothing at all. The optimistic point of view on placebos may not improve the results of open-label treatments, but instead improve the quality of your mental capacity and life health.
How I Used It: Open-label placebos are what makes my essay counterintuitive. This article gives me more evidence that open-label placebos have positive results. I barely used the actual trial, and used more of the results of the trial since that is the most important part because it shows that effect of the placebo effect.
10. Shapiro, A. K., M.D. (2018, April 30). “Factors Contributing to the Placebo Effect.” Retrieved from https://psychotherapy.psychiatryonline.org/doi/abs/10.1176/appi.psychotherapy.1964.18.s1.73
Background: Psychological factors were of importance back then and even now in the practice of medicine. Physicians relied on the psychological results from the patient, which drove them to try new types of treatments. The placebo treatment dates all the way back to the writings of Hippocrates and Galen. Medical treatment back then was unscientific and sometimes dangerous, but somehow these treatments seem to give positive results. Today, we now know that the effectiveness of these procedures and treatments were the cause of psychological factors.
How I Used It: I used the small section of the paper about the history of the placebo effect, and how it came to be such a commonly used treatment.