Attitudes to the contribution of placebo in acupuncture - A survey

  • Norheim A
  • Fønnebø V
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Interest in placebo is increasing, and recent research suggests that the therapeutic consequence of placebo is generated through mental processes in which attitudes are important. The aim of this study is therefore to explore attitudes and beliefs concerning placebo effect in acupuncture therapy, among doctors, patients and acupuncturists. From February 1994 until June 1995, four anonymous questionnaires were distributed among 1135 randomly selected doctors, 294 medical students, 432 acupuncturists and a random sample of 653 in the general population in Norway. Fifty-seven percent indicated the treatment effect seen in acupuncture as mainly a genuine acupuncture effect, 30% indicated that half of the effect in acupuncture comes from placebo, while 13% indicated that the treatment effect in acupuncture is mainly based on placebo. Doctors and students express a more sceptic view than the others, and having tried acupuncture for one's own disease is significantly associated with a less sceptic view within all study groups. Attitudes to the use of acupuncture for cancer patients are associated with attitudes to placebo for doctors and medical students, but not for the general population or acupuncturists. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Acupuncture
  • Attitude
  • Cancer
  • Patient
  • Placebo

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  • Arne Johan Norheim

  • V. Fønnebø

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