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Placebo trials without mechanisms: How far can they go?

Teira, David (2019) Placebo trials without mechanisms: How far can they go? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 77. p. 101177. ISSN 13698486

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Abstract

In this paper, Isuggest that placebo effects, as we know them today,should be understood as experimental phenomena, low-level regularities whose causal structure is grasped through particular experimental designs with little theoretical guidance. Focusing on placebo interventions with needles for pain reduction -one of the few placebo regularit ies that seems to arise in meta-analytical studies-I discuss the extent to whichit is possible to decompose the different factors at play through more fine-grained randomized clinica l trials. My sceptical argument is twofold. On the one hand, I argue that experiments alone are not enough to standardize interventions, and that it is necessary to include theories.On the other hand, I argue that the social interactions that seem to be part of placebo effects aredifficult, if not impossible, to blind. Therefore, the measurement biases arisingfrom the participants’ reactivity to the experimental setup cannot be controlled for.Further decomposition of placebo effects requires a theoretical account of the existing experimental regularities that may guide further tests.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Teira, David
Keywords: placebo clinical trials reactivity needling mechanisms standardization
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Medicine > Clinical Trials
General Issues > Experimentation
Depositing User: Prof. David Teira
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2020 22:58
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2020 22:58
Item ID: 18130
Journal or Publication Title: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Official URL: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.shpsc.2019.101177
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1016/j.shpsc.2019.101177
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Medicine > Clinical Trials
General Issues > Experimentation
Date: 2019
Page Range: p. 101177
Volume: 77
ISSN: 13698486
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/18130

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