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Placebo Effect versus Regression to the Mean

(19 Posts)
thatbags Tue 22-Dec-15 07:42:22

Claim: placebo effects are weak and regression to the mean is the main reason ill people get better. Interesting.

No need to enter the swamp of statistics to understand this idea. Just read the paragraphs under the first three headings.

M0nica Tue 22-Dec-15 08:00:58

Interesting point, especially as recently it has been noted, that many people respond well to a placebo, even when they know that they have been given a placebo.

However there has also been research that suggests that just having somebody medical interested in their ailment helps people involved in any kind of research project recover more quickly regardless of the treatment they receive.

What happens when this research is applied to the research results reported in this paper?

Luckygirl Tue 22-Dec-15 09:34:34

Interesting. I do not think the personal touch should be underestimated. I have a new GP and the fact that she asks me to make a further appt in a few weeks to check how things are going is something that I know makes me feel better - I used to feel adrift with my problems but now know that someone is happy to keep a close eye on me and to change medication as needed.

The placebo effect is a fascinating thing. When my OH started out as a GP, in their rural dispensing practice they had huge jars of coloured liquids that would get prescribed and decanted into little bottles. I have a feeling that in the main they were little more than water - but the whole decanting and the bright colours had a sort of alchemic aura which I am sure made people feel better!

Anya Tue 22-Dec-15 10:27:03

Regression to the mean, statistically, is accepted in many fields of study and in 'real life'

Why anyone would expect the placebo effect to be different surprises me, but Luckygirl raises an interesting point.

Jane10 Tue 22-Dec-15 11:15:42

My GP dad used to buy warts and verrucas from patients. It always worked with children who believed him! I didn't so was dosed with something called Mist Alba. That worked!!

EllenT Tue 22-Dec-15 11:41:21

Jane10 my teacher dad did just the same for his primary school pupils, which worked too. Something about the power of an authority figure, I guess.

Ana Tue 22-Dec-15 11:47:37

What did your dad buy from his pupils, Ellen? tchconfused

crun Tue 22-Dec-15 13:20:47

Another example of regression to mean:

Football team plays well during first half, manager praises them at half-time, then they play worse in the second half. Team plays badly at first, manager rants, team plays better.

Ergo: ranting works, praising doesn't.

..then there's road "improvements" too, but Colquhoun's already mentioned them.

Anniebach Tue 22-Dec-15 14:00:07

If the mind can heal the body the mind can make the body ill

crun Tue 22-Dec-15 14:30:15

That's how the nocebo effect works.

tingaloo Tue 22-Dec-15 16:52:54

Fascinating subject. I remember reading of a study where two groups of people were given sugar pills as a placebo. One group was told that the pills would have the side effect of giving them diarrhoea, and the other group that there were no side effects. A significant proportion of the "diarrhoea" group actually developed diarrhoea as compared to the " no side effect" group. The mind is a very powerful thing.

thatbags Tue 22-Dec-15 17:03:24

The human disease fighting system is a powerful thing too.

EllenT Tue 22-Dec-15 18:36:32

Ana - it was warts, like Jane10's GP dad. Not sure his powers extended to to verrucas, though. This was in the 60s - have no idea where the practice came from.

Ana Tue 22-Dec-15 18:43:00

Oh I see! For some reason I was thinking it was to do with lessons, not warts - sorry.

jinglbellsfrocks Tue 22-Dec-15 19:00:14

I think the main reason ill people get better after they have been treated by a doctor, if they do, is because modern medicines tend to work. I don't believe in placebo effects.

jinglbellsfrocks Tue 22-Dec-15 19:01:39

If they don't get better, it is because the appropriate drug hasn't been invented yet. Or their disease has progressed too far.

Luckygirl Tue 22-Dec-15 19:09:25

The placebo effect is intriguing and well-documented and researched.

jinglbellsfrocks Tue 22-Dec-15 19:11:27

I know. I still don't believe in it. It might last a week or two. But no longer.

Elegran Tue 22-Dec-15 19:27:26

Some problems wouldn't have lasted much longer even without any treatment and without the placebo, and sometimes you get really fed up with them at just the point where they are about to get better, and take action of some sort, so anything at all that you do right then seems to be a cure, whether it is a drug, a placebo, or a good moan to a friend.