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Several decades ago a study found that the majority of the responding physicians prescribed placebos to determine which patients were faking their symptoms and those with genuine symptoms. A recent study sought the attitude of Chicago internists toward placebos.

Researchers sent questionnaires to internists at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and University of Illinois – Chicago. A total of 231 internists responded to the survey, representing half of the physicians who had been sent the questionnaire.

Of the respondents who reported using placebos, 34% gave the placebo to a patient explaining it is “a substance that may help and will not hurt.” Nearly 19% told the patient that it is a medication, while 9% said that it is a medicine with no specific effect. Only 12% of the physicians opposed the use of placebos and considered their use controversial and challenged their use on the grounds of informed consent and non-deceptive therapeutics, making placebos unwise in a medical practice.

The researchers found that a growing number of physicians believe in the mind-body connection–meaning that what a person thinks can have an impact on their health and well being. Approximately, 96% of responding physicians, in this study, believe placebos can have therapeutic benefits for patients.

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