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Concept of Placebo Effects in Medicine Essay

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Updated: Sep 19th, 2019

Introduction

Placebo and pharmacological effects are factors that have complicated the study of behaviors in response to various stimuli in the environment. The study of placebo and pharmacological effects is very important in distinguishing between drug-induced response and classical conditioning due to the environment.

Pharmacologists and psychologists have been grappling with great challenge of varying doses of drugs at different environments. Numerous studies have revealed that effective doses of different drugs vary according to environmental conditions, which have placebo effect or cause classical conditioning.

Revelation of these studies has compelled pharmacologists and psychologists to establish the relationship between placebo effects and pharmacological effects. Ader, Mercurio, Walton, James, Davis, and Ojha (2010) argue that, unraveling the relationship between pharmacological effects and classical conditioning is very critical in establishment of tolerance and addition of drugs (p.195).

This means that classical conditioning has overwhelming influence on development of tolerance and addiction. Thus, effective doses of drugs do not only depend on physiological mechanism of the body, but also psychological and environmental conditions. Since effective dose of drugs depends on placebo effects and classical conditioning, how do they lead to tolerance and addiction?

Problem Statement and Research Question

Placebo effects and classical conditioning are two environmental factors that have greatly influenced effective dose of drugs. Researchers have established that, there is variability of drug dosage given to patients according to patient expectations and environmental conditions making them to consider presence of other mediating and confounding variables as well.

The variability of drug dosage is due to placebo and classical conditioning that influence pharmacological effects of drugs in an individual. The variability of drug dosage used in treatment of chronic diseases such as cancer and psoriasis has led to the development of tolerance and addiction.

In some patients, when administered with standard dose, the drug does not reach the effective dose, hence leads to tolerance, while others experience overdose leading to addiction. Due to the confounding and mediating variables of pharmacological effects, pharmacologists and psychologists have been struggling with the issue of addiction and tolerance. According to Ader et al. (2010), placebo effects and classical conditioning have significance influence in determining effective dose of drugs and thus establish tolerance and addition levels of drugs in patients (p.196). Thus, pharmacologists must factor in placebo and classical conditions when calculating the effective dose of drugs that are specific to certain patients.

Given that effective dose of the drugs is not only subject to pharmacological effects, psychologists and pharmacologists need to establish the critical relationship between effective doses of drugs and classical conditioning due to the environment. The relationship is imperative in the optimization of doses together with classical conditions in bringing about optimum pharmacological effects of drugs while minimizing addition and tolerance levels of drugs.

Stockhorst, Enck, and Klosterhalfen (2007) assert that, proper understanding of the placebo effects and classical conditioning of certain drugs is very important in calculating appropriate dose of drugs to minimize development of tolerance and addiction to drugs (p.3433).

Usually, patients with chronic diseases such as cancer and psoriasis that require long-term use of drugs are prone to tolerance and addition to drugs. Therefore, how can optimization of pharmacological effects of drugs occur through modification of placebo effects and classical conditions, while limiting development of addiction and tolerance?

Significance of Research Question

The research question on how to optimize pharmacological effects of drugs while minimizing development of addition and tolerance is very important in determining effective dose of drugs. Given that effective dose of drugs varies depending on placebo effects and classical conditioning of the environment, understanding of the mediating and confounding variables is critical in determining effective dose of drugs.

Thus, calculation of the effective dose of drugs should consider mediating and confounding variables such as placebo effects and classical conditioning. Numerous studies have confirmed that there is variability in the effective dose of drugs based on the placebo effects and classical conditions that patients have during chemotherapy.

At similar dosage of drugs under same environmental condition, patients experience differing pharmacological effects implying that placebo effects mediate the effectiveness of drugs. Mendez, Williams, Bhavsar, Lu, Bizon, and Setlow (2009) argue that, classical conditioning is very important in enhancing pharmacological effects of drugs since rats fed on amphetamine chronically had increased frequency of feeding as compared to those that did not receive amphetamine (p.75).

This means that classical conditioning is an integral part of placebo effects that have overwhelming influence during chemotherapy. Thus, the research question is of essence in determination of effective dose and minimization of unnecessary adverse effects of drugs such as tolerance and addiction.

Report of Research Findings

Research findings have revealed that there is significant variability in effective dose of drugs that results into development of tolerance and addiction as adverse effects of drugs. Pharmacologists and psychologists have agreed that, there are mediating and confounding variables that have overwhelming influence on the effective dose of drugs leading to tolerance and addition. It is very hard to calculate the effective dose of drugs because placebo effects and classical conditions of the environment determine the effectiveness of a dose.

Ader et al. argue that, since there are placebo effects and classical conditioning due to the environment, general application of standard dosages of drugs to all patients under different environmental conditions and varied psychological perceptions have contributed significantly to increasing cases of addiction and tolerance (p.194).

Patients at different environments and varied psychological expectations of chemotherapy experience differing effective dosages of drugs. Therefore, calculation of effective dosage of drugs requires consideration of placebo effects and classical conditions of the environment.

Although placebo effects and classical conditioning have significance influence in determination pharmacological effects of drugs, modification of these conditions can be of great benefit in optimization of drugs.

Usually, standard dosages of drugs have negative effect on health because they result into addiction and tolerance due to placebo effects and classical conditioning. According to Stockhorst, Enck, and Klosterhalfen (2007), proper modification of classical conditions and placebo effects can improve effectiveness of drugs without inducing tolerance or addiction in patients (p.3435).

Modification of classical conditions and placebo effects is appropriate in the treatment of chronic diseases such as cancer and psoriasis while preventing the development of addiction and tolerance due to long-term use of drugs. Various research findings have confirmed that reduction of dose and optimal modification of classical conditions and placebo effects can increase effectiveness of drugs and reduce development of addiction and tolerance.

Connection to Personal and Professional Goals

The research is very important in psychology because modification of classical conditions and placebo effects is integral in understanding human mind and behavior relative to chemotherapy. Given that psychotherapy and chemotherapy link intricately, optimization of therapy requires optimal interface between the two fields. Optimal interface of psychotherapy and chemotherapy will result into appropriate calculation of the effect of dose of drugs at various environmental and psychological conditions.

This research will also enable me to determine ways in which I can apply the knowledge learned in the classroom in daily life and understand factors behind certain actions and how to handle them.

In addition, the research will provide a clear understanding of the role drugs can play in classical conditioning and the application of the findings in management of various conditions that afflict people on a daily basis such as chronic diseases and addiction. Since tolerance and addiction are adverse effects of drugs that emanate from ineffective doses due to placebo effects or classical conditioning, the research will help me to establish effective dose of drugs by considering confounding variables.

Discussion, Recommendations, and Conclusions

Effective dose of drugs vary depending on the placebo effects and classical conditioning of the environment. Variability in effective dose of drugs has resulted into development of tolerance and addiction as adverse effects of drugs, particularly in treatment of chronic diseases such as cancer and psoriasis, which require long-term use of drugs.

Studies have shown that the environment of administering drugs plays a significant role in development of tolerance to the drug such that a change in location of administration of the drug may result in overdose even though the dosage remains constant.

Bryant, Roberts, Culbertson, Le, Evans, and Fanselow (2009) contend that, classical conditioning and placebo effects are the major factors in an environment that determine effectiveness of the drug, irrespective of the dose (p.77). The argument implies that environment is a significant factor that determines effectiveness of a dose during chemotherapy. A standard dose can be an overdose in one patient leading to addiction or under dose in another leading to tolerance.

Since there is variability in effective dose irrespective of drug dosage due to classical conditioning and placebo effects, it is critical to establish optimal conditions that increase effectiveness of drugs. Pharmacologists and psychologists should develop integrative determination of effective drug dosage to prevent unnecessary development of addiction and tolerance to drugs when treating chronic conditions such as cancer and psoriasis.

Carmack, Wood, and Anagnostaras (2010) posit that, adverse effects associated with long-term use of drugs can significantly reduce if there is appropriate modification of classical conditions and placebo effects (p.21). Thus, appropriate formulation of effective dosage and reduction of adverse effects of drugs depends on chemotherapy and psychotherapy factors.

In conclusion, placebo effects and classical conditioning have significant influence in determining effective dose of drugs. Favourable placebo effects and classical conditions increase effectiveness of drugs and minimize adverse effects, while unfavorable placebo effects and classical conditions reduce effectiveness of drugs and increase adverse effects of drugs.

Hence, pharmacologists and psychologists are grappling with the challenge of minimizing dosage of drugs and creation of optimum conditions that have placebo effect to maximize effective dose of drugs.

Proper optimization of placebo effects and classical conditioning is very important in the formulation of effective dose of drugs that have minimal side effects of addiction and tolerance. Therefore, integration of chemotherapy and psychotherapy factors in the design and formulation of drugs dosages is imperative in enhancing safety and efficacy of drugs.

References

Ader, R., Mercurio, M., Walton, J., James, D., Davis, M., Ojha, V. (2010). Conditioned Pharmacotherapeutic Effects: A preliminary study. Psychosomatic Medicine, 72(2), 192-197.

Bryant, C., Roberts, K., Culbertson, C., Le, A., Evans, C., & Fanselow, M. (2009). Pavlovian Conditioning of Multiple Opioid-like Responses in Mice. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 103(1-2), 74-83.

Carmack, A., Wood, C., & Anagnostaras, S. (2010). Amphetamine and Extinction of Cued Fear. Neuroscience Letters, 468(1), 18-22.

Mendez, A., Williams, M., Bhavsar, A., Lu, A., Bizon, J., & Setlow, B. (2009). Long-lasting Sensitization of Reward-directed Behavior by Amphetamine. Behavioral Brain Research, 201(1), 74-79.

Stockhorst, U., Enck, P., & Klosterhalfen, S. (2007). Role of Classical Conditioning in Learning Gastrointestinal Symptoms. World Journal of Gastroenterology, 13(25), 3430-3437.

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