Introduction: The use of placebo has spread in clinical practice despite being controversial. In Mexico, the practice of family medicine is predominantly institutional and works with an essential medications list. Objective: To determine the frequency and family doctor attitude regarding the use of placebos in clinical practice. Method: Cross-sectional, observational, multicenter study of 307 family doctors with active practice in 27 states of the Mexican Republic. A questionnaire was used with sociodemographic data and consensus-developed questions about frequency of use and attitudes. For analysis, the square-chi test was used. Results: 75% used placebos (95% CI=69.7-79.4%); 122 (39.7%) used pure placebos, mainly water (p < 0.05), and 220 (71.6%), impure placebos, mainly vitamins and laboratory tests. They were used more in patients with medically unexplained physical symptoms (178, 45.5%), including 122 (31.2%) "healthy worried" patients, or who had chronic conditions (40, 12.5%). Reasons for prescription: 249 (81%) for the psychological effect, when they showed benefit (176, 57%), even when it implied deceiving (78, 25%) or insufficient evidence of efficacy (57, 19%). The main reason was because of patient insistence. Conclusions: More impure placebos were used, mainly in healthy worried patients and in those with chronic conditions.
Bibliographical noteCopyright: © 2019 Permanyer.
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