Article Text


Symptom relief and the placebo effect in the trial of an anti-peptic drug.
  1. A J MacDonald,
  2. N R Peden,
  3. R Hayton,
  4. C N Mallinson,
  5. D Roberts,
  6. K G Wormsley


    In order to determine some of the factors involved in the response of duodenal ulcers to placebo treatment, the following factors were studied prospectively during a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial: demographic data; duration of illness and effect of treatment; expectation of success or failure of the new drug; presence of psychiatric problems; and suggestibility. Healing (measured by endoscopy) occurred in 37 patients, 17 of whom were receiving placebo; relief of symptoms occurred in 35 patients, 16 of whom were receiving placebo. There was no significant difference between drug and placebo. Healing was significantly associated with relief of symptoms but with no other variable. Relief of symptoms was more common in male patients and in those from higher social classes, as well as in patients who expected a complete cure and those without evidence of psychiatric problems. the natural history of the disease may be different in these patients. Unexpectedly, suggestibility was not associated with healing or relief of symptoms in the patients receiving placebo.

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