Doctors have used placebos (medicines or treatments with no known effect) since ancient times. Now, a new study from the University of Chicago that is printed in the January 2008 edition of The Journal of General Internal Medicine shows that many modern-day physicians have used them in their practice, too.
Forty-five percent of the Chicago internists that were surveyed said that they have used a placebo at least once. About a third of the doctors said that they told patients the placebo was something that may help but would not hurt or said that the placebo might help although they were not sure how it worked. Nineteen percent told the patient that the placebo was medication.
The use of placebos is controversial. While 96 percent of the doctors agreed that placebos can have therapeutic effects on patients, twelve percent said the use of placebos should be prohibited.