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Analytical Essay on Placebo Effect: Annotated Bibliography

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Annotated Bibliography

Bishop, Felicity L, et al. “When and Why Placebo-Prescribing Is Acceptable and Unacceptable: a Focus Group Study of Patients’ Views.” PloS One, Public Library of Science, 9 July 2014,

This source is reliable because it is the National center for biotechnology information. This is a government databank that published medical studies along with other scholarly information.

This study found that the more someone believes in a placebo, the better an outcome could be and vice versa. Bishop talks about how prescribing a placebo would be unethical because it is considered deception. The placebo teeters on the line of what is ethical because a placebo can make a patient or a patient’s family feel like they are being lied too or that they are not getting the right kind or best care. Bishop also found that the more a placebo was talked about the better the view on it would be.

I would use this article because it talks about the ethics of the placebo and how people’s perception on it can get better. I think it peers into the patients perspective and informs what a patient may feel like when prescribed a placebo.

Harvard Health Publishing. “Putting the Placebo Effect to Work.” Harvard Health, Harvard Health Publishing,

This is a reliable source because it was published by a renowned school, and was published six years ago, so it is still relevant to today. Harvard has also published studies relating to the placebo effect.

The article starts with mentioning that the placebo effect was not used as widely as it is today and our perception of the placebo is changing. The author says it is changing because we are finding proof that the placebo effect has an impact on neurotransmitters which affects our brain. They also mention how powerful our belief in the treatment is. The more we believe in it, them more we get out of it. Their study was another informative resource, it stated, of those who received the placebo in the study 44% saw an improvement in their symptoms. Placebos can also have a psychologically positive effect while having no physical effect on the body. One study found that albuterol was much more effective in the treatment of asthma, those receiving the placebo and real treatment both reported symptom relief. Placebos have been found to release endorphins, which are a natural painkiller.

I would use this information because it has statistics that are useful and mentions possible reasons for why the placebo effect is, in some cases, very useful and not in others. It also mentions the importance of belief in the treatment and how it can be useful. This article will be helpful for anyone in further understanding the placebo effect.

Munnangi, Swapna. “Placebo Effect.” StatPearls [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 27 Oct. 2018,

This source is reliable because it is the National center for biotechnology information. This is a government databank that published medical studies along with other scholarly information.

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This article first mentions Dr. Henry Beecher who brought light to the placebo effect along with how and why it should be used. It also mentions that a placebo can have a damaging effect. It also talks about how a placebo works; a condensed version would be the belief that the treatment will work and the expectations of the treatment. Another point in the article would be, how and when placebos would be used. The article also mentions the downsides of placebos from a clinical standpoint; the placebo can be damaging because when used alongside another treatment, that may be experimental, it becomes difficult to separate what treatment has caused what. It also mentions that the placebo effect can be considered deceptive and unethical because other treatments can be withheld.

I would use this source because it mentions the negatives of the placebo effect, how it works, and how it was popularized. Overall this source was informative and allowed a differing view than other sources I have found.

Silberman, Steve. ‘Doctors Can and Should Regularly Use Ethically Prescribed Placebo Treatments.’ Alternative Medicine, edited by Lynn M. Zott, Greenhaven Press, 2012. Opposing Viewpoints. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Accessed 26 Mar. 2019. Originally published as ‘Meet the Ethical Placebo: A Story That Heals,’ NeuroTribes, 22 Dec. 2010.

This is a reliable source because it was found on opposing viewpoints, Steve Silberman also runs a blog called neuro blog and has contributed to magazines such as Time, the New Yorker, and wired.

Silberman talks about how important a patient’s belief in treatment is when taking a placebo, if they do not believe in it, the placebo will not work. He also finds that placebos have been found to alleviate symptoms from medical conditions such as IBS or Parkinsons’. He also mentioned a study that found their was minimal difference in real acupuncture versus sham acupuncture, this could mean acupuncture is a form of a very believable placebo. He also mentions the importance of the relationship between the patient and practitioner, it is important because it can help strengthen a placebos effect if given. It also mentions the dilemma many doctors face when giving a placebo which is deception. He mentions a study where a group of people with IBS knew they were getting a placebo, but still took a pill for it twice a day. The study found that those who were on the placebo still had clinical improvement.

I would use this source because it gives a loophole to figuring out how to ethically prescribe a placebo which was supported by a study that has been published by the British Medical Journal. This source also mentions standard of care when providing placebos which is an important factor in patient treatment and symptom relief.

Sobel, Eliezer. ‘Placebo Treatment Can Have Harmful as Well as Beneficial Effects.’ Alternative Medicine, edited by Lynn M. Zott, Greenhaven Press, 2012. Opposing Viewpoints. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Accessed 28 Feb. 2019. Originally published as ‘The Placebo Effect Can Kill You,’ The 99th Monkey: A Psychology Today Blog, 10 Apr. 2010.

This is a good source because it is on discus and it was published by Eliezer Sobel who is a journalist who has contributed to Tikkun, Yoga Journal, Village Voice, Mudfish, and Quest Magazine.

In this article, we find that the negatives a placebo can produce, the belief in the placebo, and the subject’s attitude towards the randomized control trial can impact how the placebo works. Although the patient or caregiver do not know who gets the actual medicine or placebo, the impact is the same. The placebo can produce withdrawal symptoms because the brain perceives the placebo as a harmful substance; when this happens, it is often referred to as a “nocebo effect.” The placebo can also produce physiological symptoms that are dependent on the patient’s belief in the drug, sometimes these effects can be harmful, such as heart rhythm lowering or quickening dependent on what the caregiver says it will do. The placebo has also been associated with deception and a lower standard of care because as some patients improve with the real drug, those with the placebo will continue to decline.

I would use all this information because it explains the possible disadvantages a placebo can produce. The information in the article was relevant to my research project because it allowed me to understand the full scope of my topic better and was very effective in relaying information to the readers.

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