Hi. I used to use this blog a lot more than i do now. I don't agree with much of what i've posted here, but such is the nature of time. :) My instagram & facebook are likely to be more up to date.

shocking statistic?

>> Sunday, October 26, 2008

about half of american doctors surveyed recently said that they regularly give their patients placebos.

article here.
wiki on placebos here.

"Half the doctors reported using placebos several times a month, nearly 70 percent of those described the treatment to their patients as "a potentially beneficial medicine not typically used for your condition." Only 5 percent of doctors explicitly called it a placebo treatment.

Most doctors used actual medicines as a placebo treatment: 41 percent used painkillers, 38 percent used vitamins, 13 percent used antibiotics, 13 percent used sedatives, 3 percent used saline injections, and 2 percent used sugar pills.

In the survey, doctors were asked if they would recommend a sugar pill for patients with chronic pain if it had been shown to be more effective than no treatment. Nearly 60 percent said they would."

i have mixed feelings about this. sometimes the patient is wrong, foolish or suggestable. in those cases the placebos may be the best thing. if you are trying to help, honesty can sometimes be a barrier. but n the other hand, i think the disconnect between doctors and their patients, and the general disregard for a patient's agency that i see in american medical practice leads me to believe the practice is surely abused.


carlos October 26, 2008 at 1:40 PM  

i somewhat doubt the extent to which western doctors abuse this. and before i get into this a bit, i think it's important to highlight the context, namely that americans are the most over-medicated people in the world (and the rest of the west are catching up).

there is little incentive for a doctor to prescribe a placebo. first, because western hospitals and medical practice are evaluated from a 'patient-centered' approach (see doctors' super high insurance costs vis-a-vis tendency of americans to sue), which basically makes it so that customer...er...patient satisfaction are the goal. second, because doctors tend to want to focus more on serious, complicated patients than the ones who would tend to fall into the 'just give'im a placebo' category.

i'm not saying that their judgment is 100% on this. nor am i saying that there aren't some folks who get placebos that maybe need something else (although, i tend to think that that something else is whollistic treatment). but i suspect that it's more often a way of appeasing hypochondriacs who actually can nail you on some frivolous shit due to psychosematic symptoms.

to paraphrase erich fromm, there's a big difference between "i can't sleep" and "i have insomnia," and a lot of westerners use this level of distinction to further dissociate themselves from, y'know, life, societ, etc...

james gyre... October 26, 2008 at 6:05 PM  

good points carlos..

i tend to agree with you, but there is also a lot of attitude among doctors in the u.s. that patients "aren't worth their time"...

things the patient is concerned with the doctor isn't, and vice versa.

clearly not in every case, but it is an issue.

also, some of the placebos listed (like antibiotics and painkillers) COULD harm a patient if taken without knowing it.

Carlos Eric October 26, 2008 at 7:32 PM  

yeah, man, actually i was just thinking about that a bit more. i think my mental doubletake went something like,

'wait...painkillers? what?!'

not too much of a stretch to imagine valium and xanax being used as 'placebos' either, i dunno. if it happens once, that's too many times.

got money? feed kids!

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