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The Honesty Effect


  • Bette-Jane Crigger,

  • Matthew K. Wynia


Anne Barnhill focuses her article in this issue on the American Medical Association's ethics policy governing clinical use of placebos, but the implications of her analysis are deeper, touching on how physicians should make judgments about which interventions to offer patients in the process of shared decision-making. The bottom line is that, even if an undisclosed placebo might be marginally more effective for a particular patient in the short term, over the long haul the integrity of the patient-physician relationship relies on doctors being honest with their patients. Even when it comes to placebos, honesty remains the best policy.