Journal article Open Access

STUDY OF THE VIEWS ON PLACEBO AND ITS USE IN THE PEDIATRIC MEDICAL AND NURSING PRACTICE

Bedoor H. Al Qadrah*, Abdulla Al-Sayyari

Background: The utilization of placebos intervention in clinical practice is generally controversial. This study aims to evaluate the use, knowledge, and attitudes about placebos among pediatric doctors and nurses.

Method: A survey-based cross-sectional study was used consisting of 19 questions, including prescribing frequency, type of placebo, indications, perceived effect, and ethical concerns associated with the use of placebos.

Result: Eighty-nine (29.5%) respondents prescribed placebos. The commonest placebo was saline infusion (16.6%). The commonest reason for prescribing placebos was to calm the patient and to stop him complaining (39.1%). Of the participants (83.8%) believed “placebos have therapeutic effects”. 81.5% thought that its effect was psychological. Two-thirds felt that placebo should only be used selectively and 6% of thought that its use should always be permitted. 57.7% of doctors and 32% of nurses (P=0) think the patient should not know about the placebo.

Conclusion: Research about the use of placebo in clinical practice is still insignificant, particularly from the Middle East and in Saudi Arabia. In our study, nearly one-third of the respondents use placebos in clinical practice, which is lower than reported elsewhere. The vast majority felt that placebos are “sometimes effective” and a very small percentage believed that placebo prescription should be always permitted.

Keywords: Placebo, pediatrics, ethical concerns, physicians, nurses

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