“Placebo Effect.” Please respond to the following: Locate a recent example in the media of a scientific study involving the placebo effect. • Identify and explain the placebo effect’s...

“Placebo Effect.” Please respond to the following:

Locate a recent example in the media of a scientific study involving the placebo effect.

• Identify and explain the placebo effect’s function in each step of the scientific method: observation, hypothesis, experimentation, verification.

• Describe how the placebo effect impacted the results of the study.

• State whether or not you were surprised by the results and why.

Asked on by jolie14

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

A placebo is a drug that looks like a regular drug, but actually has no active ingredients.  It is used in a study to test a real drug’s effectiveness.  In such a study, a participant does not know whether he is getting the real drug with the active ingredients or the placebo.  In fact, in some studies, known as “double blind” studies, even researchers don’t know, so they won’t act any differently toward patients.

In a recent study, researchers tested acetaminophen(sold in stores under the brand name Tylenol), in a study with a placebo.  They found that the placebo was just as effective as the active ingredient acetaminophen.  This study looked specifically at back pain.  There have been other studies that show that it reduces fever, and does work for other types of pain, but not back pain.  People who took acetaminophen got better after 17 days, and people who took the placebo got better after 16 days.

There is another explanation.  The people might have felt better because they were getting some kind of pill, even if they were not getting acetaminophen.  This is known as the placebo effect.  With the placebo effect, a patient feels better just from thinking he or she is getting medicine.

This explains how a pill that has been described by health professions for decades, and trusted by millions of people, could suddenly be considered bogus.  The placebo effect is a powerful effect.  It means that even if you do not get the pill with medicine, just getting something can sometimes trick your brain into thinking that you are getting medicine.  People who took the placebo got better after only one more day than those who took acetaminophen.

The brain is a powerful force.  We should not be too surprised by the placebo effect.  It just tells us that brain can be tricked into thinking that it is getting something that it is not getting, so it starts to get better anyway.  Maybe that means acetaminophen for back pain needs further study.

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hermy27's profile pic

hermy27 | Student, College Senior | (Level 1) Salutatorian

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Identify and explain the placebo effect’s function in each step of the scientific method: observation, hypothesis, experimentation, verification.

     The sample group was asked to observe their symptoms during the experiment in order to allow researchers to gauge how many test subjects would offer a false reaction to their foods if they believed they were having a negative reaction to gluten.  See article below for more detailed findings.

Describe how the placebo effect impacted the results of the study.

     The majority of the sample group test subjects reported a negative reaction to the foods they believe contained gluten, and reacted positively to the foods they believed were gluten-free.  This shows that the majority of the test subjects who claimed to have "gluten sensitivity" or "gluten intolerance" did not have any physiological reactions outside of those that might be considered psychosomatic, as it was never the gluten itself that caused their gastrointestinal issues.  

• State whether or not you were surprised by the results and why.

     I was not at all shocked by these results, as I am well aware that "gluten sensitivity" is nothing more than the most recent in a long line of food fads that has driven up the gluten-free market by billions of dollars by people who have a deep-seeded psychological need to feel special.  Celiac disease, however, is a very real problem for some people, and the fact that so many people claim to have "gluten allergies" are doing a disservice to those who really do suffer from a legitimate, life-changing, chronic disease.

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