How Placebos Can Be Effective Method Of Treatment

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Knowing that placebos can be an effective method of treatment, Espay et al. (2015) wanted to see if the price of a placebo would alter its effectiveness. The researchers conducted a double-blind study with twelve patients with moderate to severe Parkinson’s disease. The participants were told that they would be receiving two new injectable dopamine agonists which, despite their large difference in price ($100 and $1,500) were thought to be equally effective. Participants were further told that the purpose of the study was to support that the two new medications were indeed equal in their effectiveness. The study was conducted with a counterbalanced design, such that half the group would take the cheap medication first and the expensive medication second, and vice versa. Participants were told that they would receive the second medication four hours after the first, which would allow enough time for the effects of the first medication to wear off. Participants completed the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale, the Purdue Pegboard Test, and a tapping task before and after the administration of each medication. Results revealed improved motor function after the administration of both placebos. However, the benefit was greater when participants were first randomized to the expensive placebo. These findings not only support the placebo effect in Parkinson’s patients, but also suggest that the perception of cost has the capability of influencing motor function in
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