Doctors: Placebos Helping Patients Feel Better

Placebo Prescriptions Consider Controversial

You've heard of the placebo effect: patients take a sugar pill, and then report feeling a lot better. There are medical studies showing the placebo effect works about 30 percent of the time. Now, a survey from the National Institutes of Health finds that more than half of the doctors who responded say they regularly use placebos to help their patients.

 The doctors said they would prescribe vitamins, sedatives, antibiotics and even saline injections, in hopes that the patients would "think" themselves into feeling better. The physicians also say they rarely inform patients that they're getting a placebo, for obvious reasons. Instead, they'll say something like "you're getting medecine not typically used for your condition"

The study, in the British Medical Journal, says some medical ethicists consider it controversial because it's deceptive. But almost two thirds of the doctors polled disagreed, saying the bottom line is that it often has a beneficial effect: particularly for people with debilitating chronic conditions.

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