Friday, October 24, 2008

Study: Half of American Doctors Give Patients Placebos Without Telling Them

That is the name of an article which you can read by clicking here. This is the intro:

"About half of American doctors in a new study regularly give their patients placebo pills without telling them. That contradicts advice from the American Medical Association, which recommends doctors only use treatments to which patients have given their informed consent.

"It seems like doctors are doing things they shouldn't be doing," said Irving Kirsch, a professor of psychology at the University of Hull, who has studied the use of placebos. Kirsch was not linked to the research, published Friday in the British Medical Journal."

Another part of the article says "Studies have shown that patients given a fake treatment can often improve, despite the pill having no known impact on their condition."

This reminds me of some research an economist did on placebos that I blogged about last April. That post was called Placebos: The More You Think They Cost, The Better They Work .

This also reminds me of what economists call "asymmetric information." This is a situation in which the seller knows more about a product than the buyer (sometimes the buyer knows more about something important like how healthy or risky they are as it relates to insurance). These markets do not operate optimally. My student might recall I discussed this after we played the supply and demand game in class. A good example is the used car market. Sellers usually know alot more about the product than the buyers.

1 comment:

Cliff Perez said...

I've always felt that tricking people into thinking that a pill would make them feel better was far more productive than prescribing a real drug. Real drugs have side effects and can potentially end up escalating your condition with some side effect that is less desirable then what you have. A doctor is more than welcome to trick me if it means I get healthier. It always scares me to hear the side effects of a drug during the end of it's commercial. Who wants to be stuck with the side effect "flushing?"