Clinically daft?

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Earlier this year, an interesting review was published in the open access journal Psychology Research and Behaviour Management. The title of the paper How can placebo effects best be applied in clinical practice? A narrative reviewseems to create somewhat of a paradox. The usual definition* of a placebo is “a substance (or procedure) that has no therapeutic effect”. So, in a sense, the title of this paper could be re-written as ‘How can the effects of things that have no effect best be applied in clinical practice? A narrative review’!

In the clinic

Paradoxical titles aside, the authors suggest that there are certain principles that can be applied to enhance clinical outcomes, including:

– speaking positively about treatments

– providing encouragement

– developing trusting relationships between doctor and patient

– providing reassurance

– supporting relationships

– respecting uniqueness

– exploring values

– explaining basic mechanisms behind treatments

– communicating…

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