Open-Label Placebo: Reflections on a Research Agenda

Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 61 (3):311-334 (2018)


Until recently, the medical community assumed that placebos required either concealment in randomized controlled trials or deception in clinical practice to elicit placebo effects. Henry Beecher emphasized this orthodoxy, when he stated that placebo pills only work "as long as it is not detected as a placebo by the subject or the observer" and therefore, patients "believe it [is a drug] and consequently the expected results occurs". The time was ripe for such ideas: Norman Vincent Peale's The Power of Positive Thinking was already in its fourth year on the bestseller list when Beecher published his landmark paper. As time went on, the use of placebo pills became trapped in an...

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