A placebo is a simulated or otherwise medically ineffectual treatment for a disease or other medical condition intended to deceive the recipient. Sometimes patients given a placebo treatment will have a perceived or actual improvement in a medical condition, a phenomenon commonly called the placebo effect or placebo response.
The placebo effect consists of several different effects woven together, and the methods of placebo administration may be as important as the administration itself.
In medical research, placebos are given as control treatments and depend on the use of measured suggestion. Common placebos include inert tablets, vehicle infusions, sham surgery, and other procedures based on false information.
However, placebos may also have positive effect on the subjective experience of a patient who knows that the given treatment is without any active drug, as compared with a control group who knowingly did not get a placebo. It has also been shown that use of therapies about which patients are unaware is less effective than using ones that patients are informed about.
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