Putting the placebo effect to work

Researchers at the Harvard-wide Program in Placebo Studies and the Therapeutic Encounter, have deepened the understanding of the placebo effect and its various components. Researchers have also used brain scans and other technologies to show that there may be a physiological explanation for the placebo effect in many cases. There is some danger that uncritical acceptance of the placebo effect could be used to justify useless treatments. But more important is the growing recognition that what we call the placebo effect may involve changes in brain chemistry — and that the placebo effect may be an integral part of good medical care and an ally that should be embraced by doctors and patients alike. More »

Update on cataract surgery and replacement lenses

Ophthalmologists have been using high-speed lasers for some time to perform LASIK procedures.  Now some are using similar technology to perform cataract surgery. Proponents say these lasers, which are guided by computers, will make cataract surgery that much safer. But so far, these are just claims without a great deal of quality evidence to back them up. One question, though, is whether the technical improvements in the operation will translate into significantly better outcomes. Then the question becomes whether they are worth the additional cost. (Locked) More »