Placebo or No Treatment Effective for Headache

Higher response rate for controls in pharmacological versus nonpharmacological trials

FRIDAY, June 3 (HealthDay News) -- Individuals with headaches have an average recovery rate of 35.7 percent when they are in the placebo or no-treatment group of a trial, according to a review published online May 20 in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics.

Femke M. de Groot, from the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues investigated the effects of placebo control and no treatment in patients with headaches. A total of 119 randomized controlled trials with a no-treatment or placebo control group, including 7,119 patients, were analyzed. Types of placebo or no treatment were categorized into six subgroups and were analyzed based on the type of outcome variable.

The investigators found that the recovery rate for both the placebo and no-treatment group was 35.7 percent. Significantly more control participants from pharmacological studies recovered compared to control participants in nonpharmacological studies (38.5 versus 15 percent). In nonpharmacological studies, adults were more likely to recover; whereas, in pharmacological studies, recovery was more likely for children.

"This study showed a relatively high overall recovery rate in the 'no treatment' or placebo control groups (35.7 percent)," the authors write.

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