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Double Blind Study - Placebo Controlled Trials

March 3, 2022
Est. Reading: 3 minutes

What is the placebo effect?

The placebo effect is when a person experiences a benefit after taking a placebo, medication, or other treatment with no natural therapeutic effect. The placebo effect typically exhibits its most significant strength when the person believes the placebo is active. Researchers believe this effect occurs due to the release of endorphins, brain chemicals that assist in pain reduction.

What are placebo controlled trials?

Researchers use this type of study to ascertain the effectiveness of a treatment by comparing the outcomes of the placebo group with those of the group that received the treatment. When the results of both groups are similar, it allows for the conclusion that the treatment is not practical.

Double Blind Study

Why are placebo-controlled trials important?

Placebo-controlled trials are necessary because they help to determine whether a treatment is effective. If a cure is ineffective in a placebo-controlled trial, it will likely be inadequate in real-life situations. One of the ways to test the efficacy of a new medication or other treatment is through a double-blind study.

What is a double blind study?

A double-masked study is one in which neither the participants nor the researchers know who receives the treatment and the placebo. It helps to ensure that any differences in results are due to the actual treatment and not to the participant's expectations.

How is the placebo effect controlled in a double-blind study?

Researchers often use a placebo with no expected therapeutic effect to control for the placebo effect. It helps to ensure that any differences in results are due to the actual treatment and not to the participant's expectations.

Are placebo-controlled trials unethical?

The leading ethical position on placebo-controlled clinical trials is that whenever proven effective treatment for a given condition, it is unethical to test a new treatment for that condition against a placebo. However, there may be cases where a placebo is the only available treatment, and trying a new treatment against a placebo is ethical.

Some people argue that using a placebo in a clinical trial is unethical because it does not allow the participant to receive the active treatment. However, most researchers believe that using a placebo in a clinical trial is necessary to ensure that any differences in results are due to the actual treatment rather than to the participant's expectations.

placebo controlled

Although this approach to clinical research is scientifically sound, ethical concerns sometimes outweigh the benefits of this protocol design. Informed consent forms for placebo-controlled trials should include a discussion of the risks and benefits of participating in the study, including both the active treatment and the placebo. It is important to note that a placebo is not a “fake” or “useless” treatment but rather an inert treatment (does not have any therapeutic effect).

The use of placebos in clinical trials is a common and accepted practice. Considering this approach's ethical concerns is essential, but they do not outweigh the benefits of using this research design. It is up to the individual participant to decide whether to participate in a clinical trial.

Thanks for reading! We hope this gives you a good understanding of double-masked studies and the placebo effect. Feel free to let us know if you have any questions.

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One comment on “Double Blind Study - Placebo Controlled Trials”

  1. FDA to ban artery-clogging trans fats. Trans fats are widely considered the worst kind for your heart, even worse than saturated fats, which can also contribute to heart disease. Trans fats are used both in processed food and in restaurants, often to improve the texture, shelf life or flavor of foods. They are created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to make it more solid, which is why they are often called partially hydrogenated oils.

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