Science In Brief

Chiropractic Literature Review


The Study: Validation of Placebo in a Manual Therapy Randomized Controlled Trial.
The Facts:
a. The authors indicate that there is no recognized placebo to be used in scientific trials that look at spinal manipulation.
b. The lack of an adequate placebo has been problematic in chiropractic research. A documented placebo is needed in order to perform certain studies and would greatly benefit the research of chiropractic spinal manipulation.
c. The authors used an active treatment and a placebo and asked the subjects to identify if they had received the active treatment.
d. The active treatment was a Gonstead adjustment.
c. The placebo was a sham adjustment which consisted of "a broad non-specific contact low-velocity, low-amplitude sham push maneuver".
d. When asked if they received the active treatment more than 80% thought they had received active treatment regardless of whether they were in the active or sham group.
Take Home:
It appears possible to perform placebo manipulation(s).
Reviewer's Comments:
Placebos are used all the time in drug trials. This is a placebo manual manipulation and that allows us to do studies that we would be unable to perform without the use of a placebo. Studies could be designed to eliminate the criticism that improvement in the subjects was the result of the natural progression of the condition or just the attention paid to the patient by the doctor. The use of a placebo manual manipulation could be of great use to some researchers.
Reviewer: Roger Coleman DC
Editor: Mark R. Payne DC
Reference: Chaibi A, Saltyte Benth J, Bjorn Russell M. Validation of Placebo in a Manual Therapy Randomized Controlled Trial. Sci Rep. 2015 Jul 6;5:11774. doi: 10.1038/srep11774.
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