News Headlines Article

All The World’s A Stage—Including The Doctor’s Office
National Public Radio

In medicine today, placebos serve a specific purpose. In the form of sugar pills or pretend treatments, placebos provide a benchmark against which researchers can compare drugs and other medical interventions.

Ted Kaptchuk is a professor at Harvard Medical School. He says it’s often hard to pin down why a medical treatment has worked.

“If people get better we want to know if it’s because [of] the drug we gave them, or is it spontaneous remission, or is it because of the doctor-patient interaction, or is it because of the ritual of taking pills?”