A placebo effect occurs when a drug that has no pharmaceutical efficacy. However it is used by a physician to treat illnesses an predicts the desired curative effect. Important influencing factors in therapy with placebos are the expectations and basic attitude of the ignorant patient towards the effect of the drug. Trust and communication between doctor and patient also play a decisive role, because the more confidence the doctor places in the healing effect of the drug and the more the patient’s symptoms and concerns are taken seriously, the more positive the placebo response will be.
There is no risk for the treated person by taking placebo preparations. No biochemical side effects are caused, because the preparation is a dummy drug without effect. Nevertheless, negative reactions cannot be excluded. A patient’s basic attitude towards the drug treatment plays a major role and can influence the results. If certain side effects are expected from the “real” drug, there is a high probability that they will occur only due to psychological persuasion.
Besides the therapy of psychosomatic clinical pictures, the placebo effect is primarily used for research purposes. Hereby, a study is conducted in which a distinction is made between 2 groups of subjects. One group gets the original and the other group receives the placebo. The treatment courses of both preparations are compared in order to determine the actual effectiveness of the genuine pharmaceutical preparation.