How placebo characteristics can influence estimates of intervention effects in trials

Jeremy Howick, Tammy Hoffmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

[Extract] Researchers now recognize the need to completely describe
active interventions within trials.1,2 However, the importance
of clearly describing placebo control interventions is
not well reported or understood. Placebo controls are interventions
used in clinical trials that do not contain the “active” components
of the active intervention. The purpose of placebo control
interventions is to provide a baseline measure of effectiveness
against which the effects of the active interventions can be measured.
Yet, placebo control interventions come in many forms,
ranging
from pills and injections to sham surgery.3–7 The placebo
control characteristics chosen by investigators have different
effects and can contribute to either an overestimation or underestimation
of the benefits or harms of the active intervention.8 Despite
this, placebo characteristics are clearly reported in fewer than 10%
of drug trials and fewer than 30% of nondrug trials.9 This failure to
report placebo characteristics presents a barrier to the interpretation
of placebo-controlled trials.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E908-E911
JournalCMAJ
Volume190
Issue number30
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2018

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Cite this

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title = "How placebo characteristics can influence estimates of intervention effects in trials",
abstract = "[Extract] Researchers now recognize the need to completely describeactive interventions within trials.1,2 However, the importanceof clearly describing placebo control interventions isnot well reported or understood. Placebo controls are interventionsused in clinical trials that do not contain the “active” componentsof the active intervention. The purpose of placebo controlinterventions is to provide a baseline measure of effectivenessagainst which the effects of the active interventions can be measured.Yet, placebo control interventions come in many forms,rangingfrom pills and injections to sham surgery.3–7 The placebocontrol characteristics chosen by investigators have differenteffects and can contribute to either an overestimation or underestimationof the benefits or harms of the active intervention.8 Despitethis, placebo characteristics are clearly reported in fewer than 10{\%}of drug trials and fewer than 30{\%} of nondrug trials.9 This failure toreport placebo characteristics presents a barrier to the interpretationof placebo-controlled trials.",
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How placebo characteristics can influence estimates of intervention effects in trials. / Howick, Jeremy; Hoffmann, Tammy.

In: CMAJ, Vol. 190, No. 30, 30.07.2018, p. E908-E911.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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