Tag: randomized controlled trials

Ian Harris on “Surgery, the Ultimate Placebo”

Ian Harris explains that more than half of commonly performed surgical operations may be placebos. Adequate studies using a blinded control group are essential.

/ October 27, 2020

Vitamin D supplements do not reduce the risk of depression

A newly-published randomized controlled trial finds vitamin D supplementation has no effect on depression. This adds to the long list of medical conditions for which vitamin D supplementation has turned out to be ineffective.

/ August 6, 2020

An Alternative to Appendectomy: Antibiotics

My title doesn’t refer to alternative medicine, it refers to an alternative within medicine: treating appendicitis with antibiotics instead of surgery. You may be surprised to learn that patients with appendicitis don’t always automatically need an appendectomy. A recent randomized controlled trial in Finland compared surgery to medical treatment. History of appendicitis treatment There is an excellent, detailed history of appendicitis available...

/ August 18, 2015

Should placebos be used in randomized controlled trials of surgical interventions?

Trials of new experimental drugs frequently compare them to placebo, particularly when there is a large subjective component to the disease being treated, such as pain. In contrast, placebo-controlled trials are rarely undertaken in surgery, mainly because it's been considered ethically dicey to do sham surgery on one group. Should this change? Should we be more open to doing randomized, placebo-controlled surgery...

/ May 25, 2015

Placebo, Are You There?

By Jean Brissonnet, translation by Harriet Hall Note: This was originally published as “Placebo, es-tu là?” in Science et pseudo-sciences 294, p. 38-48. January 2011. It came to my attention in the course of an e-mail correspondence with the editors of that magazine, where one of my own articles was published in French translation in January 2015. I thought this was the...

/ February 24, 2015

Is the Ebola Crisis a Reason to Skip RCTs?

In a recent “Perspective” article in The New England Journal of Medicine, three physicians (Drs. Cox, Borio, and Temple) make a strong case for not letting the rush to save Ebola patients tempt us to deviate from good science and skip the randomized controlled trial (RCT). Their arguments cut to the essence of the scientific approach to medicine, and they deserve careful...

/ January 6, 2015

Medicine’s Beautiful Idea

For most of human history, doctors have killed their patients more often than they have saved them. An excellent new book, Taking the Medicine: A Short History of Medicine’s Beautiful Idea, and Our Difficulty Swallowing It, by Druin Burch, MD, describes medicine’s bleak past, how better ways of thinking led to modern successes, and how failure to adopt those better ways of...

/ May 11, 2010