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Attitudes and Perceptions in an Authorized Deception Placebo Analgesia Research Study

Friday, September 16, 2016 — Poster Session IV

12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
FAES Terrace


  • SJ Goo
  • EA Richards
  • BL Justement
  • PJ Korb
  • B Walitt
  • MC Bushnell


“Authorized deception,” whereby participants are informed that deception will be used and give consent to be misled, is required for research involving deception, particularly placebo analgesia research. Little data exists on participants’ attitudes and perceptions about having participated in a deception research study. Thus, here we ask: 1) What are participants’ attitudes about having been deceived in a placebo research study? 2) Do attitudes of fibromyalgia (FM) patients differ from those of healthy control (HC) subjects? All subjects (46 HC; 32 FM) agreed to be misled and were conditioned to believe that a benign cream was a powerful topical analgesic. Subjects received heat pulses where the placebo and control creams were applied. Upon completion of the study, participants rated their concern about being deceived and willingness to participate in research. 89.6% of respondents reported little or no concern about the deception and 85.5% were likely to have still participated. FM’s were slightly less likely than HC’s to: 1) have chosen to participate (median HC: 5, FM: 4, p = .011) and 2) take part in other research (median HC: 5, FM: 4, p < .001). FM’s had significantly higher HADS depression scores than HC’s. Overall, subjects’ perceptions about being in deception research were positive. FM’s were slightly less positive than HC’s, but almost everyone expressed little or no concern. The slightly lower mood state of FM’s may have contributed to these small differences. Future research is needed to determine the effect of mood state on research participants’ responses to deception.

Category: Social and Behavioral Sciences