But How Much Better Are The Expensive Placebos?


The Washington Post reports on a study that found that “expensive” placebos were more effective than cheap placebos. HealthNewsReveiw.org raises some questions, however.

“Parkinson’s Disease patients secretly treated with a placebo instead of their regular medication performed better when told they were receiving a more expensive version of the ‘drug,'” states the Post.

“The expensive placebo seemed to work better, but the effect was small,” comments HealthNewsReview.org, reviewing coverage of the same story in the Los Angeles Times. “The study itself was also tiny — just 12 patients — which is something we think the story should have called more attention to.” HealthNewsReview.org also expresses concerns about the ethics of the study.

An ‘expensive’ placebo is more effective than a ‘cheap’ one, study shows (The Washington Post, January 28, 2015)

Placebo effect influenced by perceived cost, study finds (HealthNewsReview.org, February 2, 2015)


    • Actually, if the expensive placebo effect could be statistically separated from cheaper one in such a small study, the effect is actually pretty relevant. More participants would reduce the threshold for finding a difference, meaning you could detect smaller differences. If this study detected a difference, it was a big one.

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      • The only problem is that they are still taking a medication that, in fact, does nothing in the long run to cure them, and they are paying ostentatiously for it. The mere fact that they are paying such a ridiculous amount for it seems to only double their belief that it will fix them.

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