The placebo effect is an interesting and important phenomenon. Research in recent years show that every thought in the brain generates physiological effects. The effects can be as strong as powerful drugs. Much more research should be done on how to generate a good placebo effect in every patient with a harmless treatment.
When I was at Stanford working in biostatistics, every patient in the hospital was on a study because even those patients getting a placebo did better than patients not on a study. Every medical interaction should focus on generating a positive placebo effect in a patient, especially when it leads to avoidance of an invasive treatment like knee surgery.
Knee Surgery For Arthritis Is Ineffective, Study Finds
By Susan Okie
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 11, 2002; Page A01
An operation performed about 300,000 times a year on U.S. patients with arthritis is completely ineffective, according to an unusual study that compared the procedure with phony surgery.
The study, by researchers at the Houston Veterans Affairs Medical Center, compared two versions of arthroscopic knee surgery for osteoarthritis with a placebo operation in which patients were given a sedative and received only small skin incisions. All patients reported reduced pain and better knee function, and there was no difference in outcome between those who had real surgery and those who got the placebo procedure.