Quantifying Placebo Effects: Problems and Limitations

Henry K. Beecher's "The Powerful Placebo" in 1955 established the placebo effect as ‘scientific fact’. Beecher was the first to quantify it with 35% improvement in 15 trials with 1082 patients. The study is widely cited and replicated but false placebo impressions can result from factors such as spontaneous improvement and measurement bias. The concept and quantification of placebo effects remain unclear. In this seminar series, experts on placebo research from different parts of Europe will introduce their scientific investigation into this topic and provide current insights, limitations, and consequences thereof.

Organizers: Prof. Pablo Sinues, Mélina Richard

Time: 6 modules, Tuesday: 10:15 - 12:00

Location: University Campus Basel

The seminar will be followed by informal discussion. Non-registered participants are welcome to join on site or online via this link


Date & Location
Title & Location

07.03.2023 | 10:15 - 12:00

Kollegienhaus, Room 103

Pablo Sinues, Melina RichardIntroduction to the topic

14.03.2023 | 10:15 - 12:00

Kollegienhaus, Room 103

Dan-Mikel Ellingsen

Department of Physics & Computational Radiology, Oslo University Hospital

Novel approaches to investigate brain-behavioral mechanisms of placebo effects & social modulation of pain


11.04.2023 | 10:15 - 12:00

Kollegienhaus, Room 103

Jens Gaab

Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, University of Basel

Open-label placebo – What’s next?


18.04.2023 | 10:15 - 12:00


Katja Weimer

Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Ulm University Medical Center

From Social Observational Learning to Open-Label Placebos – Practical Applications of Placebo Effects


09.05.2023 | 10:15 - 12:00

Pharmazentrum, Room 1067

Liron Rozenkrantz

Azrieli Faculty of Medicine, Bar-Ilan University

Impact of beliefs & expectations on biological measures


16.05.2023 | 10:15 - 12:00

Pharmazentrum, Room 1067

Stephen Milford

Institute for Biomedical Ethics, University of Basel

The Lies of Lies: Exploring the Ethics of Open-Label Prescription


30.05.2023 | 10:15 - 12:00

Pharmazentrum, Room 1067

Student presentations