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Learning More About The Placebo Effect

Date:
July 6, 2009
Source:
Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics
Summary:
In a recent trial, a sample of alcohol-dependent patients received naltrexone, acamprosate or placebo for 12 weeks. While there were no differences in outcomes between treatment groups, those who believed they had been taking active medication consumed fewer alcoholic drinks and reported less alcohol dependence and cravings. That is, irrespective of actual treatment, perceived medication allocation predicted health outcomes.

In a recent trial, a sample of alcohol-dependent patients received naltrexone, acamprosate or placebo for 12 weeks. While there were no differences in outcomes between treatment groups, those who believed they had been taking active medication consumed fewer alcoholic drinks and reported less alcohol dependence and cravings. That is, irrespective of actual treatment, perceived medication allocation predicted health outcomes.

Double-blind placebo-controlled trials are intended to control for the impact of expectancy on outcomes. Whether they always achieve this is, however, questionable.

Reanalysis of a clinical trial of naltrexone and acamprosate for alcohol dependence investigated this issue further. In this trial, 169 alcohol-dependent patients received naltrexone, acamprosate or placebo for 12 weeks. In addition to being assessed on various indices of alcohol dependence, they were asked whether they believed they received active medication or placebo.

While there were no differences in outcomes between treatment groups, those who believed they had been taking active medication consumed fewer alcoholic drinks and reported less alcohol dependence and cravings. That is, irrespective of actual treatment, perceived medication allocation predicted health outcomes. These results highlight the differences between treatment administration in clinical trials and standard medical practice, a discrepancy that may sometimes decrease the validity of these types of trials.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Colagiuri et al. Expectancy in Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trials: An Example from Alcohol Dependence. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 2009; 78 (3): 167 DOI: 10.1159/000206871

Cite This Page:

Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. "Learning More About The Placebo Effect." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090622064701.htm>.
Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. (2009, July 6). Learning More About The Placebo Effect. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090622064701.htm
Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. "Learning More About The Placebo Effect." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090622064701.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

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