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QUESTIONS: In patients with various clinical conditions, what is the clinical effect of placebo as a treatment for disease? Does the effect differ for subjective and objective outcomes?
Trials published before the end of 1998 were identified by searching Medline, EMBASE/Excerpta Medica, PsycLIT, Biological Abstracts, and the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register. The search terms were synonyms of placebo, no treatment, and randomised clinical trial. Reference lists of included trials and selected review articles and books were reviewed, and experts were contacted.
Studies were selected if patients were randomly allocated to a placebo group or an untreated group. Exclusion criteria were unconcealed randomisation, sample of paid or healthy volunteers, non-blinding of assessors of objective outcomes, >50% dropouts, or if the alleged placebo had a clinical effect not associated with the …
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