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Charlotte Blease
Research Fellow, University College Dublin & Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies

Informed Consent and Clinical Trials: WHERE IS THE PLACEBO EFFECT?
The ethical imperative to disclose information about placebo effects in research contexts

The Declaration of Helsinki states that researchers are obliged to provide accurate and understandable information to participants prior to enrollment in clinical trials. Recent research analysing the content of written patient information in clinical trials reveals factual inaccuracies, and routine omissions of detail about placebos and placebo effects. In this talk I argue that the provision of adequate evidence-based information about placebos and placebo effects would help to improve participant understanding of fundamental aspects of clinical trials. Inadequate information about placebo may contribute to already well-known persistent misunderstandings about the methodology and primary goals of clinical trials among research participants (“therapeutic misconception”). Truthful information is also required to uphold transparency and genuine informed consent. I close by providing practical recommendations for clinical researchers on the disclosure of placebo effects to trial participants.

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Dr. Charlotte Blease is Research Fellow in Philosophy at University College Dublin, and Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies.  Her research is interdisciplinary. She has published on the ethics of placebo, and the role of placebo in psychotherapy.