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Guest Blog: Evidenced Based and the Placebo Effect - featured November 11, 2011

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Guest Blog: Evidence Based and the Placebo Effect

By: Jessica Shiel
Copyright 2011. Based on a blog post that originally appeared on her blog Jezzabella's OT Experiences

So I found this fascinating video on the placebo effect through In Web we Trust (a site of geekery and science). Often many of the techniques that occupational therapists use have not been scientifically proven to create a difference. That does not mean they do not work; it just means the technique has not been tested yet. This makes it hard for occupational therapy to get respect as a profession. It is hard for me at the moment to figure out how a placebo would work for occupational therapy. I believe most scientific journals currently compare a technique versus if no intervention was done or against another technique working trying to achieve the same goal to see what is better.

In my research group, we are studying how life skills training can help an underprivileged population with chronic illness stay on their medication schedule. The placebo in our research is how well the population stayed on their medication schedule before versus after treatment. This works because the population is not suffering from a progressive disease that would get worse without intervention. However, the pre/post test experimental set-up is not as valued as some other setups like a randomized control trial. While randomized control trials may be the ideal in research; in reality you cannot always get the information you need from them nor are they always ethical.

In our evidence based practice class, we have started to discuss the issues of occupational therapy becoming more research based. The field of occupational science is increasing, but it is still not as large as some other bodies of evidence. It will only increase with time and with pressure to develop evidence. However, it is hard to consider occupational therapy ever being solely focused on evidence because the programs developed are individualized to the client and their environment. It is an unusual balance that OTs must maintain. We need our practice to be evidence based so that we can get reimbursed and gain respect as a profession, but we can not become so procedural that inventions cannot be individualized.

Our Featured Guest Blogger: Jessica Shiel of Jezzabella's OT Experiences

About the Author (from her blog): I am going to enter a Master's Occupational Therapy program in Georgia in Fall '11. I hope to impact the community with this career. I am also interested in crafting, baseball, and cooking.

Please support our contributors and visit Jezzabella's blog Jezzabella's OT Experiences

Tags: Article OT Newsletter 11 November 2011