Placebos have timeeffect curves
Placebo response rates vary greatly and are frequently much higher than the often-cited one third. Placebos have time-effect curves, and peak, cumulative, and carryover effects similar to those of active medications. As with medication, surgery can produce substantial placebo effects, and this possibility is commonly overlooked in case series reports on back surgery. Individuals are not consistent in their placebo responses, and a placebo-responder personality has not been identified. Models advanced to explain placebo effects emphasize the role of anxiety, expectations, and learning.
Placebo effects influence patient outcomes after any treatment, including surgery, that the clinician and patient believe is effective. Placebo effects plus disease natural history and regression to the mean can result in high rates of good outcomes, which may be misattributed to specific treatment effects. The true causes of improvements in pain after treatment remain unknown in the absence of independently evaluated randomized controlled trials.