WATCH 2011 Annual Meeting All-Access Right Here

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Placebo Treatment: Informed Consent not to be Informed

Research examining attitude about use of placebos found people very willing to accept the use of placebos for first line treatment of depression and for other medical conditions. The research will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in Honolulu, Hawaii on May 14.

Researchers led by Uri Nitzan, M.D., used a cross sectional survey to investigate whether subjects suffering from medical conditions in general and depression in particular would consent to receive placebo, and whether receiving placebo would negatively affect their autonomy or doctor patient relationship.

Study participants, 344 college, medical and law school students from Israel, were provided a thorough explanation about the placebo effect and its efficacy and limitations in the treatment of depression and then completed a self report questionnaire.

Seventy percent of study participants expressed consent to receive placebo as a first line treatment if they were they to suffer from depression in the future and 73 percent consented to receive placebo treatment for other medical conditions. Nearly 90 percent did not consider a physician administering a placebo deceitful, nor the act of prescribing it a deceit.

The researchers concluded that “despite the declared disapproval of placebo treatments by the medical establishment, the majority of our study population was willing to use placebo medication in general, and as first line treatment for depression in particular.” The authors invite physicians to rethink and discuss the legitimacy of administering placebos in clinical practice.

The study (NR01 44) will be part of the new research poster session scheduled for May 14, 10 to 11:30 a.m., in room Kamehameha Hall 3, Level 1 (adjacent to the exhibits) in the Hawaii Convention Center at the APA Annual Meeting in Honolulu.

The APA’s 16th Annual Meeting, the world’s largest psychiatric meeting, will run Saturday, May 14 to Wednesday, May 18, 2010 in Honolulu.

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