Douleur et Analgésie

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 215–220 | Cite as

Placebos in clinical practice: an ethical overview

  • M. AnnoniEmail author
  • F. G. Miller
Literature Review / Revue de la Littérature


The use of placebos in clinical settings raises a host of important ethical issues. On the one hand, ethical guidelines tend to categorically prohibit the clinical use of placebos because they require deception. On the other hand, a growing series of empirical studies has revealed that placebos can be clinically effective and are still widely used by health professionals. In this article we provide a synthetic overview of the ethical debate discussing: 1) the ethics of deceptive placebos; 2) the ethics of placebos without deception, and 3) the ethics of eliciting placebo responses without administering a traditional placebo.


Ethics Clinical medicine Placebo Deception Open-label placebos 

Placebos dans la pratique clinique : un aperçu éthique


L’utilisation de placebos dans les milieux cliniques soulève plusieurs questions éthiques importantes. D’une part, les lignes directrices éthiques ont tendance à interdire catégoriquement l’utilisation clinique des placebos, car ils nécessitent la tromperie. D’autre part, de plus en plus d’études empiriques ont révélé que les placebos peuvent être cliniquement efficaces et qu’ils sont encore largement utilisés par les professionnels de la santé. Dans cet article, nous proposons un aperçu synthétique du débat éthique en abordant : 1) l’éthique de placebos avec tromperie ; 2) l’éthique de placebos sans tromperie et 3) l’éthique de déclencher des réponses placebo sans l’administration d’un placebo traditionnel.

Mots clés

Éthique Médecine Placebo Tromperie Étude ouverte avec placebos 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag France 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze della SaluteUniversity of Milan & Department of Experimental Oncology, IEO, Istituto Europeo di OncologiaMilanItaly
  2. 2.Department of BioethicsNational Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA

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