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German doctors are told to have an open attitude to placebos

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d1535 (Published 08 March 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d1535
  1. Ned Stafford
  1. 1Hamburg

After more than three years assessing the scientific literature on the clinical use of placebos, the German Medical Association (Bundesärztekammer) has concluded that they can be effective and is encouraging doctors to have a more open attitude towards their use in some cases.

The assessment, conducted by the association’s scientific advisory board, urges doctors to receive training in the use of placebos and for medical schools to include instruction on placebo use in the curriculum. It notes that placebos can sometimes be more effective than standard drug treatments, can reduce unpleasant side effects, and can result in lower health costs.

“Placebos have a stronger effect and are much more complex than previously realised,” said Christoph Fuchs, the association’s managing director, at a press conference on 2 March announcing …

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