“Thompson does an excellent job of defining, describing, and explaining the placebo effect…informative and thought-provoking….This book is a call to action by a wise and compassionate physician who cares deeply about his ancient profession.”
— New England Journal of Medicine“This very readable and interesting book will be valuable to both layperson and the professional…Recommended”
- Choice “…Thompson’s vigorous exploration of the placebo effect is an important step toward acknowledging the healing power of hope. Alternative-health practitioners will not want to miss this title.”
- Utne"Using the placebo effect as a window into understanding doctor/patient relationships, randomized controlled trials and evidence-based medicine, this thoughtful discussion building on the literature and extensive clinical experience provides an accessible guide for the layperson as well as an important analysis for physicians and other health professionals."
Rene Dubos University Professor of Behavioral Science
Since the days when doctors routinely made house calls and sat by the bedside offering comforting words along with medical care, the doctor-patient relationship has become increasingly impersonal and superficial. As medical technology and treatment have improved, and time constraints have become more demanding, the beneficial effects of meaningful doctor-patient interactions have too often been overlooked. Nonetheless, objective clinical trials have repeatedly shown that real, measurable benefits to the patient occur through the “placebo effect,” the positive effects of the doctor’s presence and personality plus the patient’s belief in the efficacy of the treatment.
Dr. W. Grant Thompson, a frequent consultant on the design of clinical trials, reviews the history of the placebo effect and the evidence of its benefits to health in this lively, informative, and scientifically rigorous book. He looks at both the planned use of placebos in blind clinical trials and the unplanned placebo effects arising out of the doctor-patient relationship, the passage of time, and the perceptions of the patient. Dr. Thompson emphasizes that placebos in themselves have no intrinsic benefit; what matters is how the treatment is provided and under what circumstances. He argues that understanding the placebo effect is important for the care of the ill, the design of clinical trials, and healthcare policy planning. He contends that we should be using judiciously the best medical evidence, but even that can be undermined by insensitive delivery. Healthcare policy can only gain from taking both vital components of medical care into consideration.
Praised by the New England Journal of Medicine
as “a gifted teacher and clinician with a talent for clear exposition,” Dr. Thompson has written an important, accessible, and interesting work that deepens our understanding of both the tangible and intangible factors that affect health. He convincingly demonstrates that patients need the best that science has to offer combined with kind and compassionate caregiving by doctors in order for a treatment to be its most effective.
Book Binding: Paperback
Shipping Weight: 1lbs
W. Grant Thompson, MD, (Ottawa, Ontario) is professor emeritus of medicine at the University of Ottawa, where he served as chief of the Division of Gastroenterology from 1980 to 1997. An award-winning science writer, he has authored many acclaimed books on the gut and irritable bowel syndrome and remains active in clinical trial consulting, medical education, research, and writing.