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Table of Contents
Vol. 16, No. 6, 2009
Issue release date: December 2009
Section title: Essay
Forsch Komplementmed 2009;16:404–412
(DOI:10.1159/000259371)

The Context and Meaning of Placebos for Complementary Medicine

Lewith G.a · Barlow F.b · Eyles C.a · Flower A.a · Hall S.a · Hopwood V.a · Walker J.c
a Primary Medical Care, University of Southampton, b Bournemouth University, Poole, c School of Health Sciences, University of Southampton, UK

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Article / Publication Details

First-Page Preview
Abstract of Essay

Published online: December 04, 2009
Issue release date: December 2009

Number of Print Pages: 9
Number of Figures: 0
Number of Tables: 0

ISSN: 1661-4119 (Print)
eISSN: 1661-4127 (Online)

For additional information: http://www.karger.com/FOK

Abstract

Calls for placebo-controlled randomised trials in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) are entirely reasonable. However, they present major methodological problems, particularly when we understand so little about the underlying biological mechanisms involved for many of these therapies. Designing a placebo in CAM is frequently dependent on unsubstantiated assumptions about the specificity of a particular CAM intervention. In this paper we address the development and application of placebos to clinical trials of homeopathy, acupuncture, kinesiology, Chinese herbal medicine and healing. Each therapy-based vignette is authored by a researcher from the Complementary and Integrated Medicine Research Unit at the University of Southampton who has specific expertise in the field. The essential research question within this review is; can we legitimately claim to have placebos for these particular CAM interventions? In some areas of CAM the debate has become very involved and sophisticated, for instance in acupuncture but for other areas, such as healing, our understanding of placebos is currently limited and very naïve. For instance, if acupuncture is not point specific, then many so-called ‘placebo-controlled’ acupuncture trials are both misconceived and misleading. We have addressed this debate in what we hope is a thoughtful and rigorous manner with a view to developing realistic, reliable and credible placebos for randomised controlled studies when and where possible. However, our conclusions suggest that we are some way from developing valid, credible and reliable placebos for most CAM therapies.

© 2009 S. Karger AG, Basel


Article / Publication Details

First-Page Preview
Abstract of Essay

Published online: December 04, 2009
Issue release date: December 2009

Number of Print Pages: 9
Number of Figures: 0
Number of Tables: 0

ISSN: 1661-4119 (Print)
eISSN: 1661-4127 (Online)

For additional information: http://www.karger.com/FOK


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Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or, in the case of photocopying, direct payment of a specified fee to the Copyright Clearance Center.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
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