Nearly half of physicians use placebos in clinical care, and only 4% tell their patients the truth about it, according to a survey of Chicago academic physicians that was published this month in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
Only 8% of the 231 physicians surveyed used placebos more than 10 times during the last year, but experts were alarmed by doctors’ self-reported, less-than-straightforward conversations with patients about placebos.
The study is troubling because deceptive use of placebos is “inconsistent with what we now understand as the rights of patients to decide on treatment in a knowledgeable way and the duties of physicians to disclose to patients the treatments that they are providing,” said Paul S. Appelbaum, MD, director of the
division of psychiatry, law and ethics in the psychiatry department of Columbia University College of Surgeons.
The whole shebang.