Taking pills regularly, even placebos, improves health

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted July 24, 2006

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Patients who adhere to their medication regimens, even if they are taking only placebos, have a lower risk of death than those who are not as compliant, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal this month.

Researchers at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, carried out a meta-analysis on studies that reported patient mortality in relationship to how adherent they were to taking recommended drugs. Compliant patients nearly halved their risk of death, and the authors theorize that drug adherence could be a surrogate marker for an overall healthy lifestyle. An accompanying editorial also suggested that people who take their medication might experience healing because the action makes them feel cared for either by themselves or others.

"Patients' adherence to treatments would show that they were caring for themselves while their clinical encounters would reinforce that their doctors were caring for them," wrote Betty Chewning, PhD, director of the Sonderegger Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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