The powerful placebo
One article on PainSci cites Beecher 1955: Placebo Power Hype
PainSci notes on Beecher 1955:
This is the 1955 paper that launched the Legend of Placebo. Dr. Henry Beecher reported that 35% of 1000 patients were “satisfactorily” treated with a placebo alone. His conclusion catapulted placebo to lasting fame… and wasn't really questioned for a long time.
Kienle and Kiene published a strong criticism of Beecher's findings in 1996, but no one took much notice. Much more prominently, Hróbjartsson and Gøtzsche reported in 2001 in the New England Journal of Medicine that they “found little evidence in general that placebos had powerful clinical effects” and concluded that there is “no justification for the use of placebos” outside clinical trials.
The topic has been hotly debated ever since, but few experts still believe that placebo is “powerful.”
For much more about Beecher and how this all started, see The Legend of the Wartime Placebo
- “The powerful placebo effect: fact or fiction?,” Kienle et al, J Clin Epidemiol, 1997.
- “Is the placebo powerless? An analysis of clinical trials comparing placebo with no treatment,” Hróbjartsson et al, New England Journal of Medicine, 2001.
- “Is the placebo powerless? Update of a systematic review with 52 new randomized trials comparing placebo with no treatment,” Hróbjartsson et al, J Intern Med, 2004.
- “The Legend of the Wartime Placebo,” Jonathan Jarry, www.mcgill.ca.
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- Inciting events associated with lumbar disc herniation. Suri 2010 Spine J.
- Prediction of an extruded fragment in lumbar disc patients from clinical presentations. Pople 1994 Spine (Phila Pa 1976).
- Characteristics of patients with low back and leg pain seeking treatment in primary care: baseline results from the ATLAS cohort study. Konstantinou 2015 BMC Musculoskelet Disord.
- Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of universal school-based mindfulness training compared with normal school provision in reducing risk of mental health problems and promoting well-being in adolescence: the MYRIAD cluster randomised controlled trial. Kuyken 2022 Evid Based Ment Health.
- No long-term effects after a three-week open-label placebo treatment for chronic low back pain: a three-year follow-up of a randomized controlled trial. Kleine-Borgmann 2022 Pain.