Applying evidence to support ethical decisions: Is the placebo really powerless?

Science and Engineering Ethics 10 (1):119-132 (2004)
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Using placebos in day-to-day practice is an ethical problem. This paper summarises the available epidemiological evidence to support this difficult decision. Based on these data we propose to differentiate between placebo and “knowledge framing”. While the use of placebo should be confined to experimental settings in clinical trials, knowledge framing — which is only conceptually different from placebo — is a desired, expected and necessary component of any doctor-patient encounter. Examples from daily practice demonstrate both, the need to investigate the effects of knowledge framing and its impact on ethical, medical, economical and legal decisions

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