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Placebo EffectsUnderstanding the mechanisms in health and disease$
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Fabrizio Benedetti

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199559121

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199559121.001.0001

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Special medical conditions and therapeutic interventions

Special medical conditions and therapeutic interventions

(p.211) Chapter 9 Special medical conditions and therapeutic interventions
Placebo Effects

Fabrizio Benedetti

Oxford University Press

Cancer progression is not affected by placebo treatments; however symptoms can be reduced by placebos. Nocebo effects are crucially involved in anticipatory nausea and vomiting before a cancer chemotherapy session, with a basic mechanism of classical conditioning. In sports medicine, physical performance in sports activities is boosted by placebos and this poses some important ethical questions about doping. Placebo surgery may induce improvement as well. However, surgical clinical trials with placebos raise many ethical questions. Some alternative and complementary therapies, like acupuncture, have both a specific effect and a big placebo component. It is also important to realize that placebo and placebo-related effects represent a good model for the better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the patient-provider interaction.

Keywords:   cancer, chemotherapy, anticipatory nausea, sports medicine, doping, surgery, complementary medicine, alternative medicine, physiotherapy, doctor-patient relationship

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