as a weekly practice I listen to npr and do a little sketch on one of the stories. take a look, you can click on the illustration to make it bigger!
Friday, October 24, 2008
Survey: U.S. Doctors Regularly Prescribe Placebos
Placebos are common in medical research testing. One group of volunteers gets a test drug, while another group gets a look-alike sugar pill. Everybody is told upfront that they could get one or the other.
But a new survey finds that many U.S. doctors regularly prescribe placebos even in everyday patient care — for conditions that haven't responded to treatment, such as chronic pain or fatigue. Patients are almost never aware that they are getting a placebo. The idea is that if a patient thinks the pill will help, it just might.
Of nearly 700 U.S. internal medicine doctors and arthritis specialists surveyed, almost half said they prescribe placebos regularly — two to three times a month. Only 1 in 20 doctors told patients they were getting a placebo.Doctors say they most often will prescribe a vitamin pill or over-the-counter painkiller, though some prescribe an antibiotic or sedative, which the authors of the study say could be harmful. Typically, doctors tell patients the placebo is "potentially helpful, but not designed for your specific illness."
"Half of all American internists and rheumatologists using placebos was a real surprise to me," says Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, head of ethics at the National Institutes of Health and an author of the study, which appears in the current issue of the British Medical Journal.
-excerpt from NPR