Briefs: Briefs

--Powerless Placebo?

The placebo effect--the expectation that about 35% of patients will show improvement if they are given any kind of treatment at all, even a sugar pill--is one of the givens of modern medicine and, for true believers, the best evidence of the healing power of mind over body. But is it real? Two Danish researchers set out to test it by reviewing 114 clinical trials in which patients were given a real medicine, a placebo or no treatment at all. Their analysis, published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that placebos offer no significant...

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