The Placebo Effect
Many clinical studies use placebos. These look like medicine but have no active ingredients and help us find out whether any effects (improvements or side effects) seen are due to the study medicine or something else.
Sometimes, volunteers given a placebo see an improvement in their condition due to the placebo effect. This effect happens because volunteers’ expectations of the good effects of a medicine are so strong – so feel better even when they’re on placebo (remember, they don’t know whether they’re getting a placebo or not).
But the term “placebo effect” can be misleading – it can affect those taking any study medicine, too. For example, a volunteer’s expectations can enhance the effects of an active medicine to make a good drug look even better! This sounds like a good thing, but to test a medicine properly, it’s important we know its true effectiveness.