PSY 352 Topic 1 Discussion Question 2: 

PSY 352 Topic 1 Discussion Question 2: 


A recurrent theme in this book is the placebo effect, both as a desirable outcome when using placebo treatments, and as a challenge to the likelihood that the treatment being tested is really the active agent. Multiple possible ethical dilemmas are brought up in the book. For example, some of these potential dilemmas include concern regarding what influence on his subjects’ outcomes researchers have by being in charge when subjects are getting either real or placebo drugs; how they affect their behavior and/or perceptions thereof by doing so; how concrete consent and informed consent can be when asking someone with an ailment if they want to participate in a study involving placebos and what that might mean for their long-term health; whether someone who truly expects to receive no treatment whatsoever (in control groups) will show depression or other side effects from not receiving anything; potentially fatal results that may occur if active treatments are given to control groups and not to treatment groups, just because it’s impossible to predict ahead of time who will respond positively; and ultimately where doctors’ responsibility vis-a-vis harm should lie.”

Using placebos in health care is largely considered to be unethical and thus forbidden. This article will discuss some of the problems that might occur if the use of placebos was allowed. First, using placebos would require two doctors to lie to their patients. Second, there could be an imbalance between the number of treatments a drug or procedure would be compared with a placebo. Third, a patient could feel like they did not receive proper treatment and sue the doctor for malpractice.

It is often the case that a patient will show an improvement in her condition even if he or she is given an inert substance such as sugar, salt, water, or a sham drug. Fake drugs and fake surgeries can even work better than real ones. Placebos thus pose potential ethical dilemmas for health care providers as they attempt to determine whether to tell patients that they are receiving placebos. It is important to understand how placebos actually work, which influences how one might approach this question.

Therapeutic placebos are usually defined as a pharmacologically inert substance or procedure administered to a patient to relieve symptoms without any direct pharmacological action. This term was introduced by Fisher (1953) and advocates suggest using such placebos in clinical practice. Some potential ethical dilemmas may be faced when initiating or continuing the use of placebo. In practice, different types of placebos should be used: pure active-informed placebos, pure no-treatment placebos, and placebo-laboratory control comparisons. However, there are still some psychological arguments against their use. The reliability of research on therapeutic placebos seems questionable due to inconclusiveness about active ingredients and uncertainty about benefits and outcomes. Although many patients accept the use of medication in psychotherapy and medicine, not all agree that psychotherapy can benefit from this technique so far. Some authors point out the potential threat using psychotropic drugs seem to be in connection with standard medical treatment administered by a doctor which has resulted in gross overuse of anti-depressants.

Placebos are being used in many parts of the world for treating a variety of diseases. Some of the possible ethical problems with this florid subject include:

Placebos are used to treat a wide variety of ailments and disorders. This can range but not be limited to anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. The use of placebos in scientific studies have yielded results that have determined that placebos work as well as real treatment for many health related issues. However, when using placebos for personal use there are ethical concerns. Placebo effects all rely on faith, trust, and expectancy–any skepticism or doubts will diminish the effectiveness of the placebo. If someone takes a sugar pill while they expect it to be an actual medication they may find temporary relief from their ailments but that only happens when they believe it will help them or feel confident that it is helping them. Also, nothing can be gained from taking a placebo during an illness because it is not an actual medicine and no cure will occur as a result. There is also the concern of how safe are placebos? During trials these ‘sugar pills’ were found to cause side effects of sleepiness or headache; however, they did not include any serious side effects like death or hospitalization so are considered safe and effective to some degree…

Placebos in medicine are being used through an array of unproven treatments. There are ethical and safety concerns with using placebos in healthcare as it can lower the quality of care. Despite its widespread use, ethics is a problem as placebos are not at all based on real medicine, but rather “fake medicine”. Many people have gotten re-infected with diseases because of the placebo effect and many people have gotten sick from receiving placebos. For example, infants who were even given a placebo to stimulate the appetite has caused that infant to contract pneumonia. Placeba is also said to cause illegal drug practices among teenagers, addiction and conditions on top of ones diagnosed diseases.

Placebos are being increasingly used in clinical trials and in direct-to-consumer advertising. This paper presents an overview of placebo use, as well as a discussion of the potential perils associated with its use. A critical analysis of the justifications for the use of placebos is presented, along with a brief review of their ethical implications.

By definition, placebos are distinctly different from active medications. A placebo is an inert or sham medication, in contrast to actual drugs that exert physiological effects. In clinical practice, when informed consent is obtained, placebos are administered to treat illnesses. The use of placebos has been controversial, mostly because of its ethical implications.

A placebo is a substance that has no medical value but is given to simulate the effects of the actual treatment. For example, an inert sugar pill given to individuals who are said to have irritable bowel syndrome in order to convince them they have been given an effective treatment. The use of placebos dates back to ancient times, but it was not until 1935 that its beneficial effects were systematically studied. Placebos are now used regularly in clinical trials of new drugs or other procedures as well as in other kinds of research and medical practice. In some circumstances placebos may be used when giving treatments for which their side effects are more serious than their effectiveness. Some philosophers of medicine have argued that the use of placebos reflects badly on the practitioner and treatment, since the patient’s health will be improved through deceit when it could have been improved by proper treatment (Hügli).







What potential biological, psychological, and ethical dilemmas might arise from using placebos in health care?

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