The Point of Being Positive!

Reference:K B Thomas General practice consultations: is there any point in being positive? Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1987 May 9; 294(6581): 1200?1202.

The word placebo is Latin for ‘I will please’ and it was first used in 1832 in its specific medical meaning …an insincere or ineffective treatment that helps to ?please? or console a patient.

In 1986, patients visiting a GP office were randomly assigned to one of four consultations by an MD:


  • 1) Positive re-assurance with treatment
  • 2) Positive re-assurance without treatment
  • 3) No positive re-assurance with treatment
  • 4) No positive re-assurance without treatmentTwo weeks after the MD consultation there was a significant difference in patient satisfaction between the positive re-assurance and the no re-assurance groups but not between the treated and untreated groups!!!

    Amazingly, 64% of those getting re-assurance got better, compared with only 39% of those who did not received positive re-assurance (p = 0.001)

    More amazingly, 53% of those truly treated and 50% of those not treated (placebo) got better.

    Clinical Relevance: Don’t underestimate the power of being POSITIVE!
    Posted on: December 15, 2011

    Categories: Fascinating Pain Studies

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