How To Get Better Results From Treatment

Fake pills and treatments are such wonderful things.

They work roughly 30% of the time, on almost anything.

With the technical term of ‘placebos’ they are the gold standard treatment against which every other treatment is measured.

And the whole field is shrouded in mystery.

Why do blue placebos make people more sleepy, while red placebos keep people more awake?

How can fake pills work even when you know there is no active ingredient in them?

How can they work no matter what level of intelligence you do or don’t have?

Well it’s still largely guesswork, because we don’t know why or how they work but they certainly do. Study after study has shown the effectiveness of variations of placebos.

Here is one more thing that has been recently uncovered about placebos – they work better if they cost more!

Dr. Ariely, a behavioral economist at MIT’s Media Lab, and his colleagues had two groups of people receive electrical shocks to their wrists.

They were told this was for a research into a new painkiller called Velodone.

When they were given the medication one group was told the price of the medication was $2.50 a pill and others were told the cost was discounted to just 10 cents a pill.

Those who got the “more expensive” pill had significantly better pain reduction than those who thought they were getting the discounted version.

This is actually important.

Drug companies often bring out drugs that besides being new, are often more expensive too. How much of the patient’s results is simply based on the added expense, rather than having a better chemical.

Also, this effect may indeed make brand-name medications more powerful than generic brands.

So one way to get better results from your treatment is to pay more for it.

As a side note, Dr Dan Ariely has a book just published about these and other psycho-illogical phenomena. It’s called “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions”.

My main thought is whether people who buy the more expensive hardcover version will rate the book better than those who buy the cheaper paperback.

It wouldn’t surprise me, or Dan I suspect, in the least.

-Dr Martin Russell

One thought on “How To Get Better Results From Treatment”

  1. Well, as far as price goes, I would NOT be one of the 30%. I’m frugal. My favorite books were bought at the thrift shop or given to me as gifts, though some I bought at lectures and had the author sign them, which make them extra special.

    The colored pill thing, though, possibly could work with me – I never noticed it, but one tends to take pills as a matter of habit and not thinking so much. I’ve never been in a study, but I was brought up to trust my doctor. And sometimes I feel like kicking myself for doing it. Example: My health insurance changed once which brought me back to a traditional doctor and he prescribed antibiotics during a well check-up without even culturing my throat. I just had a cold, but I went ahead & took them without thought until 3 days later when I was no better. Geesh, antibiotics are for bacteria, not viruses! And it’s been reported everywhere that doctors prescribe antibiotics too much and shouldn’t do that – doesn’t he pay attention to those things?!

    Any way, good article.

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