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"Expecting health benefit actually helps healing, new study indicates"

Victoria Times Colonist

Source: Victoria Times Colonist

Published: 02 Dec 2021

Category: Other

Rating: (1½ stars)

what they said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

Your medicine really could work better if your doctor talks it up before handing over the prescription.

Research is showing the power of expectations, that they have physical -- not just psychological -- effects on your health. Scientists can measure the resulting changes in the brain, from the release of natural painkilling chemicals to alterations in how neurons fire.

Among the most provocative findings: New research suggests that once Alzheimer's disease robs someone of the ability to expect that a proven painkiller will help them, it doesn't work nearly as well...

how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 2 of 8
Availability of Treatment Not Applicable
Novelty of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Disease Mongering Satisfactory (?)
Treatment Options Not Satisfactory (?)
Costs of Treatment Not Applicable
Evidence Not Applicable
Quantification of Benefits of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Sources of Information Not Satisfactory (?)
Relies on Press Release Not Satisfactory (?)
Quantification of harms of treatment Not Satisfactory (?)

what we said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

This is an interesting story about a small study of the placebo effect on pain. The researchers contend that a patient's hopes and expectations may have more than just a psychological effect and may have a measurable physical effect on pain as well.

Unfortunately, the fine details of the evidence are lacking, as is any discussion of the magnitude of benefits or harms associated with placebo-type treatments. In fact, readers would have gotten much more detail if they had read the press release.

While the researchers note that the study is very preliminary, the story would have benefited from having someone outside the research team comment on findings. The placebo effect is likely a very important therapeutic treatment but the strength of evidence needs to be better appraised.

To access press release related to this story:

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