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The World in Medicine
June 13, 2001

Medicine's Urban Legend?

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JAMA. 2001;285(22):2847. doi:10.1001/jama.285.22.2847-JWM10005-4-1

Danish researchers have called into question one of medicine's most cherished assumptions: the power of the placebo.

In a study that appeared in the May 24 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, two researchers from the University of Copenhagen and the Nordic Cochrane Centre, both in Copenhagen, analyzed 114 studies and found that placebos were no better than no treatment for most of the symptoms or disorders studied.

Placebos did appear to produce small benefits in studies in which the outcome being measured was subjective and continuous, and in trials of pain treatment.

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