Topics: Placebo, Clinical trial, Pharmacology Pages: 4 (1563 words) Published: April 12, 2013

Module Code: 350PY
Module name: Brain and Behaviour
SID: 2660637
Rebecca Jenks

Critically evaluate the extent to which the placebo effect is just a nuisance variable to be controlled The placebo effect is known to be an unfathomable phenomenon. Nuisance variables are irrelevant variables. When present, nuisance variables increase within group inconsistency, making a treatment effect more difficult to identify. As group inconsistency increases control declines. However nuisance variables are good if a significant effect is identified regardless of their existence. This then creates great external validity. To control a nuisance variable would mean to not allow it to ensue; in the case of the placebo effect it is impossible. Affirmative results from a series of placebos are being detected in patients being treated for a diverse of disorders, from depression to those suffering asthma, which displays that placebos are not just a nuisance variable to be controlled.

The placebo can be defined as an inert substance or medicine prescribed for the psychological benefit to the patient rather than for any physiological effect Parellada et al (2012) Placebo in Latin means “I shall please” Harrington (1997). The placebo effect can also be defined as sham treatments which consist of bread pills, inert tonics and other substance Harrington (1997). However the drug is not the main concern but the changes it elicits in the patient’s brain Benedetti and Amanzio (2011) Positive psychosocial influences on treatment outcomes are termed placebo effects, whereas negative influences are termed nocebo effects Watson et al (2012). The evidence of placebo effect originates from two main types of experimental research which are randomised placebo controlled clinical trials of drugs and procedures and laboratory experiments which are exclusively designed at assessing the placebo effect Miller (2012). The placebo effect has been regarded as a nuisance in modern medicine....
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