(Why not exploit the placebo effect of Cannabis, placebo’s will not addict!)
There are numerous examples of the relationship between treatment expectations and placebo responses. If a person thinks they will experience relief from their pain by using a certain product or treatment, this can change the way they end up perceiving incoming pain signals – making them think their pain is less severe. Recent evidence suggests that the placebo effect may work even if we’re presented with evidence that contradicts our initial expectations.
We cannot say with 100% certainty that media coverage is responsible for the high placebo response observed in our review. But given placebos were shown to be just as good as cannabis for managing pain, our results show just how important it is to think about the placebo effect and how it can be influenced by external factors – such as media coverage. For treatments, such as cannabinoids, that receive a lot of media attention, we need to be extra rigorous in our clinical trials. (For complete article https://theconversation.com/cannabis-is-no-better-than-a-placebo-for-treating-pain-new-research-195394 )
Research: Placebo Response and Media Attention in Randomized Clinical Trials Assessing Cannabis-Based Therapies for PainA Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(11):e2243848. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.43848
Question What is the size of the placebo response in cannabinoid trials for clinical pain, and is the magnitude of placebo response associated with media attention on the trials?
Findings This meta-analysis of 20 studies of 1459 individuals found a significant pain reduction in response to placebo in cannabinoid randomized clinical trials. Media attention was proportionally high, with a strong positive bias, yet not associated with the clinical outcomes.
Meaning These findings suggest that placebo has a significant association with pain reduction as seen in cannabinoid clinical trials, and the positive media attention may shape placebo responses in future trials.
Importance Persistent pain is a common and disabling health problem that is often difficult to treat. There is an increasing interest in medicinal cannabis for treatment of persistent pain; however, the limited superiority of cannabinoids over placebo in clinical trials suggests that positive expectations may contribute to the improvements.
Objective To evaluate the size of placebo responses in randomized clinical trials in which cannabinoids were compared with placebo in the treatment of pain and to correlate these responses to objective estimates of media attention.
Conclusions and Relevance Placebo contributes significantly to pain reduction seen in cannabinoid clinical trials. The positive media attention and wide dissemination may uphold high expectations and shape placebo responses in future trials, which has the potential to affect the outcome of clinical trials, regulatory decisions, clinical practice, and ultimately patient access to cannabinoids for pain relief.