The Placebo Effect in Clinical Practice

ISBN : 9780199933853

Walter A. Brown
188 Pages
148 x 216 mm
Pub date
Jan 2013
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The role that placebos play in many treatments is clear: they not only play a complimentary role in various treatment options but they can sometimes be the only beneficial option for treatment. Brain imaging studies over the past decade have shown that placebo-treated patients undergo some of the same changes in brain activity as those treated with pharmacologically active substances. Yet this important component of healing is not yet harnessed in clinical settings. The Placebo Effect in Clinical Practice brings together what we know about the mechanisms behind the placebo response, as well as the procedures that promote these responses, in order to provide a focused and concise overview on how current knowledge can be applied in treatment settings. An introductory chapter documents the ubiquity and extent of the placebo response and discusses the history of the placebo response in relation to medical treatment. Several subsequent chapters focus on how placebos work and how the placebo effect can be enhanced. Expectation, conditioning and elements of the treatment situation are covered in separate chapters. The relationship between psychotherapy and placebo treatment is covered as is the ethics of deliberate use of the placebo effect. Because placebo effects are particularly prominent in some psychiatric conditions, particular attention is given to the role of the placebo response in psychiatric treatment. The final chapter summarizes what we currently know and offers concrete suggestions for how what we know of the placebo effect can be used to enhance the benefit of all treatments.


1 Introduction
2 Variations in Placebo Response
3 How Does Placebo Differ from No Treatment
4 The Treatment Situation
5 Expectation
6 Conditioning and the Placebo Response
7 Psychotherapy and Placebo
8 The Ethics of Placebo Use in Research (with Michaella Jamiel)
9 Using the Placebo Response

About the author: 

Walter A Brown, MD, is clinical professor of psychiatry at Brown University (Provident, RI) and clinical professor of psychiatry at Tufts University (Boston, MA). Dr Brown's research on the placebo effect spans more than 25 years and he is widely regarded as an authority on the subject. He has authored or co-authored more than 160 peer-reviewed papers, more than 30 of which have been academic papers on the placebo effect.

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