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The Placebo Design in Research

The placebo design in research is a type of experimental study design. The aim of a placebo design in research is to know the effectiveness of a program or treatment through the use of a placebo group. A placebo group usually get an ineffective treatment or no treatment; for example, in one experiment the experimenter gives the treatment pills to the experimental group and to the placebo group he just gives pills that contain nothing but sugar. The placebo group does not know that they are not receiving any treatment. The purpose is to test the beliefs of the participants in the medicine. This psychological effect is known as the placebo effect. Psychologists believe that the patients’ belief that they are getting treatment plays an important role in their recovery from the disease.

The purpose is to test the beliefs of the participants in the medicine. This psychological effect is known as the placebo effect. Psychologists believe that the patients’ belief that they are getting treatment plays an important role in their recovery from the disease. In several studies, it has been proved that the belief that one is getting a treatment plays an important role in the recovery from a disease. The subjects in the placebo group do not know that they are not getting any treatment, therefore, it is also called as blinded trials.

Types of placebo design in research

There are two types of placebo design in research;

in one design there is a placebo group and the experimental group,

in the other type of placebo design in research, there are placebo group, an experimental group, and the control group. The experimenter decides whether he wants to select each group randomly or non-randomly.

The experimenter decides whether he wants to select each group randomly or non-randomly.

Problems with conducting a placebo research

A placebo design is not as easy to conduct as to say, in theory, one can say that the investigator gives a pill to the placebo group that is inert. In practical research, while studying human behavior it is not easy to give an intervention to the placebo group that is inert. Every intervention, even if it is intended to have no effects, will have some effects on the audience. It is difficult to control the effect of the placebo intervention on the audience. However, the placebo intervention will have its impact on the audience but the aim should be that these placebo interventions should be inert in relation to the hypothesis that is to be tested.

Ethical concerns in using placebo

Serious ethical concerns arise during the recent time in the use of placebo design in the medical and psychological research. Since the targeted audiences are human beings, therefore, two problems arise one that the audience does not know that they are not getting any treatment. To overcome this issue today the audience is told prior to the study that they might receive the treatment or they might not.

One that the audience does not know that they are not getting any treatment, to overcome this issue today the audience is told prior to the study that they might receive the treatment or they might not. Although this reduces the actual effect of the placebo it also reduces the ethical concerns that the scientists had while conducting such studies. Secondly, in the case of serious illness, the investigator cannot use an inert treatment on one group. In the case of a serious illness, therefore, the investigator replaces the inert treatment with the already present treatment on the placebo group. The control group that receives no treatment at all is also difficult to achieve in medical science.

There are issues that have been answered in a possible manner but still, there are other issues that need to be answered in the placebo study design.

References

  • Kumar R., Research Methodology: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners, Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2000, Pp-95-96
  • Cash P., The Placebo and Design Research, Sited on http://www.academia.edu/1257222/The_placebo_and_design_research
  • Chambless DL, Hollon SD. Defining empirically supported therapies, J Consult Clin Psychol. 66(1): 7–18. PMID 9489259. doi:10.1037/0022-006X.66.1.7.

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