The article by Bishop et al. (2014) aims at exploring the GP's perspectives on the clinical use of placebo. This paper will be giving a critical evaluation of the article; including the strengths and weaknesses, the methods employed for the research and determining the relevance of the references used in the paper (whether they are up to date and whether they help the researchers to complete their study). The research is about the use of placebo treatment. The researchers took a different perspective from their previous colleagues who mostly employed qualitative research to look at the placebo effects. Other researchers followed the common tradition of focusing on the placebos as objects rather than placebo effects. The survey was nationwide about the UK General Practices (GPs) by use of open-ended questions which gave the respondents to give as many details as possible.
The sample selected constituted of 783 participants who were typically describing the placebos regarding what they did not contain. This sample size is inappropriate bearing in mind that the survey was nationwide. According to LoBiondo-Wood, Haber, Berry and Yost (2005), the sample size should be at least thirty percent of the total population. This number was not significant with the fact that just like in the US and other countries, many doctors applies placebo effect in their daily practices. The survey was carried out nationwide in the United Kingdom, and it was Web-based of 783 UK GPs placebos use in the clinical practice.
The references used in the research are relevant and up to date. The study was conducted in 2014, and most of the references used are not more than ten years old from the date the research was done. This provides the researcher with adequate and reliable information to the user in the survey. The literature used shows that there is a gap that validates this research. Most of the literature uses purely qualitative methods in the collection of data. The literature also mostly focuses on the placebos as objects rather than the placebo effect. This research is qualitative and focuses on the placebo effects, and the two reasons warrant the research.
The results provide the way the participants were defining placebos as well as their effects in general practice. There were many results on the definitions effects of placebo given by the respondents. The dominant ones are placebo treatments are inactive or inert, their effects are not detrimental, but they are positive; they lack any pharmacological action mechanism or any scientifically proven evidence to show their effectiveness. Typically, the comments provided by the participants mostly were about what was absent, what is known about the placebo effects, what the placebo treatments contain and what they are not. The principal advantages of placebo provided by the participants are that the placebo does not lie and it has no harms associated with it. Others thought that placebo should be done away with since its effects cannot be scientifically proven.
Despite using a non-reliable sample size, he results provided in the article is good. The definitions which the participants gave as well the effects of the using placebo treatment were okay. The researchers divided the results into categories; definition of placebo and its effects and the reasons why the doctors might opt to use the placebo in their treatment in the GPs. This provides a clear understanding by the reader. The results concur with other quantitative studies hence are reliable.
Bishop, F. L., Howick, J., Heneghan, C., Stevens, S., Hobbs, F. R., & Lewith, G. (2014). Placebo use in the UK: a qualitative study exploring GPs' views on placebo effects in clinical practice. Family Medicine, 31(3), 357-363.
LoBiondo-Wood, G., Haber, J., Berry, C., & Yost, J. (2013). Study Guide for Nursing Research: Methods and Critical Appraisal for Evidence-based Practice. Elsevier Health Sciences.
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