Daniel E. Moerman, PhD; Wayne B. Jonas, MD
Grant Support: In part by a grant from the National Science Foundation to Dr. Moerman (NSF SBR-9421128).
Requests for Single Reprints: Daniel E. Moerman, PhD, Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan–Dearborn, 6515 Cherry Hill Road, Ypsilanti, MI 48198; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Current Author Addresses: Dr. Moerman: Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan–Dearborn, 6515 Cherry Hill Road, Ypsilanti, MI 48198.
Dr. Jonas: Department of Family Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda MD 20814.
We provide a new perspective with which to understand what for a half century has been known as the “placebo effect.” We argue that, as currently used, the concept includes much that has nothing to do with placebos, confusing the most interesting and important aspects of the phenomenon. We propose a new way to understand those aspects of medical care, plus a broad range of additional human experiences, by focusing on the idea of “meaning,” to which people, when they are sick, often respond. We review several of the many areas in medicine in which meaning affects illness or healing and introduce the idea of the “meaning response.” We suggest that use of this formulation, rather than the fixation on inert placebos, will probably lead to far greater insight into how treatment works and perhaps to real improvements in human well-being.
Moerman DE, Jonas WB. Deconstructing the Placebo Effect and Finding the Meaning Response. Ann Intern Med. ;136:471–476. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-136-6-200203190-00011
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2002;136(6):471-476.
Cardiology, Coronary Heart Disease, Ethics, Gastroenterology/Hepatology, Headache.
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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