Placebo in the Specialized Palliative Care

Student thesis: Master programme thesis

  • Jarl Voss Andersen Sigaard
4. Term, Master of Pain Science and Multidisciplinary Pain Management (Continuing Education Programme (Master))
Introduction and aim: Placebo effects are positive effects that occur as a result of the Psyko-social context around the therapy. These effects are well documented in pain treatment as well as in the treatment other common symptoms. The main focus area of Specialized Palliative Care is the relief of pain and other symptoms in terminally ill cancer patients. Placebo effects are probably contributing to such symptom reliefs. The aim of this study was to investigate to what extend knowledge, opinion and work routines of a Specialized Palliative Care Team might contribute to the creation of placebo effects.
Methods: The study was conducted as a qualitative study using a phenomenological/ hermeneutical approach. A literature review was carried out to identify state-of-the-art knowledge about placebo effects. This knowledge was used as the theoretical framework. On the basis of this knowledge, a triangulation between participant observations and a focus group interview was carried out. Six observation cases were included and one focus group interview was carried out with the participation of 7 of the nine members of the Specialized Palliative Care Team.
Results and discussion: This study found a wide variety of work routines of the Specialized Palliative Care Team that carry a potential for eliciting placebo effects. Situations that may lead to nocebo effects were also identified. The work routines that the Team Members value as being important, includes several core elements in the creation of Placebo Effects. Work routines of the team are well thought out, but not from the viewpoint of eliciting placebo effects. The team’s knowledge and attitudes concerning placebo reflects the confusion that exists in general in this area. The study points to the fact that a greater knowledge among team members could increase the placebo effects to the benefit of patients.
Conclusion: A number of the work routines, already in use by the Specialized Palliative Care Team, are well known for increasing placebo effects. Increased knowledge and more focusing on this phenomenon might increase such effects in benefit of the patients.
Publication date17 May 2016
Number of pages79
ID: 233438464