Health Sciences & Medicine
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The topic of placebo effects is a highly contentious issue; even agreement on a standard definition remains elusive. The following dissertation aims to review current debates into placebo effects, especially focusing on the discourse initiated by the meta-analyses of Hrobjartsson and Gotzsche in 2001 and 2004.


It is anticipated that the present dissertation will provide evidence for the existence of placebo effects. As well, this paper will contribute positively to the extension of understanding placebo effects in general, as well as identifying factors necessary in research design to allow for a placebo effect to occur if one does exist. Overall, it is contended in this paper that placebo effects, and their study, can positively benefit patients' well-being and the scientific research process itself.
In ancient times medicine was proscribed in the form of ritual. For example, the Byzantine scribe Alexander of Trallers wrote that gout was to be treated with a mixture of myrrh and piglet cecum, wrapped in dogskin and worn as an amulet around the neck (Shapiro & Shapiro, 1997). In Pergamon (Turkey), at the sanctuary of Asclepius, patrons took part in rituals of fasting, sacrifices, sleeping within the temple, bathing in sea salts and fumigation in combination with herbal infusions and anointing with oils, as therapy to combat physical and mental illnesses (Shapiro & Shapiro, 1997). ...
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