Our beliefs and expectations about treatments can have a dramatic effect on our health - the so-called `placebo effect`. Doctor and writer Ben Goldacre presents a two part series.
Two programmes of approximately 30 minutes each.
Programme 1: The Placebo Effect
When a new drug or treatment is dismissed as being `no better than placebo`, we all get the message: any benefits are probably `all in the mind`, it`s ineffective, not worth pursuing. Yet studies suggest that the placebo effect can have a significant impact on the course of a wide range of illnesses, including depression, irritable bowel syndrome and angina. It seems that it`s the meaning of a particular treatment to the patient that`s crucial. For example, research shows that the colour of an inert sugar-pill and even the branding on the box, can alter a pill`s effect. In this first programme, Ben Goldacre looks at the growing body of research into the placebo effect, and explores the factors influencing the strength of the placebo response.
Programme 2: The Implications for Medicine
Studies using placebo or `sham` treatments show that what a doctor says to a patient, along with the ritual of the therapeutic encounter itself, can have a real impact on health outcomes. This raises important ethical issues for those who work in medicine. A doctor`s first commitment is to the wellbeing and health of the patient. Given the undeniable benefits of placebos in the management of many hard-to-treat conditions, can it ever be right to prescribe a placebo without informing the patient? Could complementary therapies, many of whose specific effects are unproven, represent the acceptable face of placebo prescription? Has modern, scientific medicine, with its emphasis on `magic bullets` targeting specific diseases, lost sight of the importance of the `art` of medicine?
Broadcast on Monday 18 and 25 August 2008 on BBC Radio 4.
Type : mpeg 1 layer III
Bitrate : 128
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Encoder : Lame 3.98
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