As a former clinician
I really think that many prescriptions – even like antibiotics- basically have a placebo effect
Placebo effects can be analyzed much better nowadays thanks to neurocognitive sciences (pain) and imaging (fMRI-PET).
Two Dutch publications (Jozien Bensing and Willam Verheul of NIVEL) analyze the placebo effect in more detail. There is a tendency nowadays to combine the two research lines: focus on the importance of the “doctor-patient communication” and the “placebo treatment” as such, used in trials. Placebo research can be more powerful now.
Three mechanisms are put forward for the placebo effect
1) conditioning 2) manipulation of expectancies 3) influencing affective state of the patient.
In research the combination of warm empathic communication with raising positive expectancies is the recepee for powerful placebo impact.