A new study published in the journal PLOS One reveals that a large majority of doctors admitted to giving their patients a placebo at least one time or the other.
Researchers from University of Oxford and the University of Southampton surveyed around 783 GPs and found that over 97 percent of the doctors admitted to giving a placebo to at least one patient.
While the Royal College of GPs does believe that placebos have a place in medicine, they warned that providing sham treatment to some of the health problems, such as giving a placebo to a patient suffering from suspected viral infections, could lead to side effects or drug resistance.
The chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, Dr Clare Gerada, said that they had no problems with doctors giving out placebos as long as it did not harm the patients. "Lots of doctors use them and they can help people. If you think about it, a kiss on the cheek when you fall over is a placebo. But there are risks. Not all of the placebo treatments that the researchers looked at in this study are inert. If you take too many vitamins, for example, some can cause harm", she said.