Open-Label Placebo Treatment for Cancer-Related Fatigue: A Randomized-Controlled Clinical Trial

Academic Article

Abstract

  • © 2018, The Author(s). The purpose of this 21-day assessor blinded, randomized-controlled trial was to compare an open-label placebo (OLP) to treatment as usual (TAU) for cancer survivors with fatigue. This was followed by an exploratory 21-day study in which TAU participants received OLPs while OLP participants in the main study were followed after discontinuing placebos. Cancer survivors (N = 74) who completed cancer treatment 6 months to 10 years prior to enrollment reporting at least moderate fatigue (i.e., ≥4 on a 0–10 scale) were randomized to OLP or TAU. Those randomized to OLP took 2 placebo pills twice a day for 21 days. Compared to those randomized to TAU, OLP participants reported a 29% improvement in fatigue severity (average difference in the mean change scores (MD) 12.47, 95% CI 3.32, 21.61; P = 0.008), medium effect (d = 0.63), and a 39% improvement in fatigue-disrupted quality of life (MD = 11.76, 95% CI 4.65, 18.86; P = 0.002), a large effect (d = 0.76). TAU participants who elected to try OLP for 21-days after the main study reported reductions in fatigue of a similar magnitude for fatigue severity and fatigue-disrupted quality of life (23% and 35%, respectively). OLP may reduce fatigue symptom severity and fatigue-related quality of life disruption in cancer survivors.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Hoenemeyer TW; Kaptchuk TJ; Mehta TS; Fontaine KR
  • Volume

  • 8
  • Issue

  • 1