Ethics of Clinical Research
Ethical and Conceptual Issues in the Use of Placebos
The Department's research on placebos began with an inquiry into the ethics of placebo-controlled trials. This initial work sparked further research on several topics:
- Sham-controlled trials of invasive procedures
- A systematic critique of the doctrine of "clinical equipoise," thought by many to be a basic norm governing the design of randomized trials; however, it is subject to numerous theoretical and practical problems and thus neither necessary nor desirable as a norm of research ethics
- An interest in understanding the placebo effect—a fascinating phenomenon that is fraught with conceptual problems
- Ethical issues in research on the placebo effect, especially the use of deception
- The ethics of using placebo treatments in clinical practice aimed at promoting placebo responses
- Ethical issues related to the nocebo effect—e.g. the tendency of communication to patients about side effects to contribute to patients experiencing side effects
Numerous articles on these topics have been published in medical and bioethics journals.
Full Description (circa 2010) (49 KB)
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