Capitalizing on the Placebo Component of Treatments

Curr Sports Med Rep. Jul-Aug 2015;14(4):284-7. doi: 10.1249/JSR.0000000000000172.


A placebo treatment is traditionally administered in a double-blind randomized controlled trial to control for the "real" effects of the treatment under investigation. In the present article, a broader view of the placebo is proposed, one in which the idea of a potentially "useable" placebo component of a sports or exercise medicine treatment is presented. It is argued that many interventions in sport and exercise psychology might contain a placebo component that could be capitalized upon by practitioners through processes often as simple as communicating positive expectations from a treatment to clients. Research findings relating to factors that might influence an individual's response to a placebo, such as personality, situation, and genetics, are briefly addressed. Ethical considerations for practice and future research are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Athletes / psychology
  • Humans
  • Placebo Effect*
  • Sports Medicine* / ethics
  • Therapeutics