Attitudes to and Understanding of Placebo Use: A Cross- Sectional Exploratory Study in a Malaysian Hospital
Keywords:Health knowledge; attitudes; and practice, Malaysia, Placebos, Placebo effect, Physician-patient relations
Background: This study explored doctors’ understanding of ‘placebo’, mechanisms of action, perceptions about effectiveness and concerns about use in a Malaysian teaching hospital.
Methods: A survey questionnaire.
Results: Respondents were 76 doctors (response rate: 55%): 52% were female, mean age was 32 years, and 61% were physicians/medical officers. Most (66.2%) never used a placebo. The main reason for use of placebos was for a possible psychological effect. Placebo use was considered unacceptable due to endangering of doctor-patient trust (59.2%) or patient deception (47.4%).
Conclusion: Developing specific and professional standards and guidance on placebo use could help doctors to leverage the benefits of placebo use without endangering the doctor-patient relationship.
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