- In case you missed it
- Maths conference success!
- Big changes in 22 Gordon Square
- STS student wins Faculty Award
- STS Welcomes Dr Emma Tobin
- STS class of 2010 graduates
- BSHS awards ‘special commendation’
- Summer success of 199 and rising: Science communication workshops in Croatia
- STS Seminar Series Announced
- Where did our brain's go?
- Emma Tobin: philosophy with ice cream for STS’s new lecturer
- Doctor Doctor! A new PhD in STS
- What's in YOUR placebo?
- BJPS comes to STS
- Gold Medal for STSers in Synthetic Biology at MIT Competition
- Chiara shines at Bright Club
- STS IBSc Student Wins Prestigious H.A.B Simons Prize!
- new modules for next session
- Job Opportunity: Research Assistant (0.3 FTE)
- Meet STS's New Green Champion
- Finalists Speak Up! National Student Survey
- Europe's planetary scientists meet MEPs, thanks to STS student
- Bee Fayre a Success!
- Podcast: Gillies' recollections
- Mr Nicholson is Proud to Present...
- "All art is quite useless." Or not...
- Finalists Speak Up! National Student Survey
- ESRC doctoral fellowship available
- No Ordinary Space
- Prizes 2010-11
- OneBook selected for 2011
- Chiara mentioned in Faculty dispatch
- New appointment: Lecturer
- STS launches new medical modules
- New arrival - Dr Bill MacLehose
- Departure - Dr Jeremy Howick
- Winner - Research Fellowship
- STS student wins 2011 Faculty Medal
- The Secret Life of Plants
- “Music of the Stars” podcast released
- Call for Papers: 2011 Ancient Science Conference
- New Module! Revised Catalogue!
- STS student makes Dean's List
- Prize-winning students
- UCAS rewards for STS
- STS success hits YouTube
- Charles Laine: tragedy
- 2012 Graduation - Congratulations
- New Podcast Series: Thinking About Science
- STS seminar: Thomas Kuhn on Ancient Science
- Engaging Teachers in Gender-Aware Practice
- New Book! Managing Privacy Through Accountability
- New Careers Podcast
- University Challenge
- On the winning team!
- Going, Going, Ghent
- Higg's Boson Podcast!
- STS Staff and Students at Landmark Conference
- Philosophy of Medicine: New Article
- STS reunion plans - announced
- Ambrosio: Art and Science mix
- video: Miller talks about Chemical Cosmos
- Thinking About Science: Episode 4
- Praise for STS teaching
- Thinking About Science Episode 5
- New Careers Podcast!
- MSc student 'makes' news
- History of Pre-Modern Medicine Seminar Series 2012-13
- STS success at iBSc fair
- STS Lecturer at The House of Lords
- Grant success: Balmer on the History of Biological Weapons
- Histories of Scientific Experience
- Another Win for STS Student!
- Will The Geek Inherit the Earth?
- OCEANIC ENTERPRISE
- The Genius of Invention
- Thinking About Science: Episode 6
- Blog Winners Announced
- Finalists! Speak Up!
- BPPA Masterclass Success!
- MAPS students praise STS teaching
- STS research fellow in MRC Suffrage Science event
- Semi Final Ahoy!
- DEUS IN MACHINA
- Responsible Innovation in Europe
- STS Students Take Action
- Semi Final Challenge
- Science and Security Grant
- The Spanish Collaboration
- MATERIAL HISTORIES OF SCIENCE
- Vacancy: Senior Lecturer in Science Communication
- STS Students on the BBC
- Mechanisms & Causality Workshop
- Vacancy: Research Associate Cold War History
- National praise for Agar
- Conference Success
- Grant Success & Internship Opportunity
The Department of Science and Technology Studies, UCL is an interdisciplinary centre for the integrated study of science's history, philosophy, sociology, communication and policy, located in the heart of London. Founded in 1921. Award winning for teaching and research, plus for our public engagement programme. Rated as outstanding by students at every level.
At UCL, the academic mission is paramount. Our ambition is to achieve the highest standards in our teaching and research.
Join us for BSc, MSc, and PhD study.
Staff books include:
What's in YOUR placebo?
5 November 2010
Placebos are everywhere in medical research, but its hard to tell if the placebos in one study are the same as those used in another study. In a new research report, a team of investigators, including STS philosopher of medicine, Dr Jeremy Howick, shows the extent of non-description about placebos. This raises concerns because, the authors write, “No substances are known to be physiologically inert, and no regulations guide placebo composition, which can influence study results.”
The lack of clarity about placebos can lead to confusion when comparing the results of therapeutic research. Placebos provide the baseline. If the baseline shifts with different studies, then it’s hard to judge the relative effectiveness of therapies.
Elaborating on their findings, Jeremy explained the problem. "Perhaps due to the mistaken assumption that placebos are ‘inactive’, the ingredients of placebos are rarely divulged in any detail. Failure to adequately describe placebos leads to three problems for placebo controlled trials: (1) they are difficult to appraise for internal validity, (2) they are difficult to replicate, and (3) they compromise cross-trial comparisons of effectiveness. This problem impacts directly on routine clinical practice since failure to list placebo ingredients undermines the perceived benefit of ‘active’ drugs."
Their research shows the extent of non-description about placebos. The authors propose a reporting scheme for placebos and conclude that silence, in this case, is far from golden. Researchers should declare the ingredients of their placebos.
What's in Placebos: Who Knows? Analysis of Randomized, Controlled Trials
Authors: Beatrice A. Golomb, Laura C. Erickson, Sabrina Koperski, Deanna Sack, Murray Enkin, and Jeremy Howick.
Annals of Internal Medicine. October 18, 2010 vol. 153 no. 8, pp. 532-535
online: www.annals.org/content/153/8/532.abstract (link)
Page last modified on 05 nov 10 17:16 by Joe Cain
UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS)
0207 679 1328 office | +44 207 679 1328 international
email@example.com | www.ucl.ac.uk/sts | @stsucl
postal address: Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT | United Kingdom
street address: 22 Gordon Square, London, WC1E 6BT | maps