Just in from London...
"About half of American doctors in a new survey say they regularly give patients placebo treatments - usually drugs or vitamins that won't really help their condition. And many of these doctors are not honest with their patients about what they are doing, the survey found.And therein lies the dilemma: to tell or not to tell?
"That contradicts advice from the American Medical Association, which recommends doctors use treatments with the full knowledge of their patients.
"It's a disturbing finding," said Franklin G. Miller, director of the research ethics program at the U.S. National Institutes Health and one of the study authors. "There is an element of deception here which is contrary to the principle of informed consent."
"Placebos as defined in the survey went beyond the typical sugar pill commonly used in medical studies. A placebo was any treatment that wouldn't necessarily help the patient.
"Scientists have long known of the "placebo effect," in which patients given a fake or ineffective treatment often improve anyway, simply because they expected to get better..." Continued here. PDF in case
Experts don't know if the placebo effect would be undermined if patients were explicitly told they were getting a dummy pill.Your take?