Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Susan Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

Double-blind, Placebo-Controlled Study Definition

Double-blind, Placebo-Controlled Study: The preferred way that conventional medicine evaluates treatments. In this type of study, at least two groups of identical (or as near as possible) patients are given treatments. One group receives the actual treatment being studied (the treatment group) and the other does not (the placebo group). Neither the doctor nor the patient knows which group is getting which treatment (double-blind). The treatment is evaluated by comparing its effectiveness with the placebo. While this can be useful, it is not the only way to thoroughly and thoughtfully evaluate a treatment. Using only treatments “proven” by this kind of study excludes many that may be just as – or more – effective. There are treatments proven by historical use, from other systems, or even those that may be untried, but worth a shot in a last-ditch effort to treat the dog. Other countries, including Japan and several European countries, rely more on historical use and the experience of practitioners. Some researchers consider the use of placebos to be cruel, and instead choose to compare a group of patients receiving the new treatment to a group of patients receiving the current best treatment. While some clinical researchers in American western medicine are using this approach, most scientists still feel the double-blind, placebo-controlled experiment is the gold standard.

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