The Use of Placebo and the Right of Autonomy

Cheng Kam-Yuen

In the clinical trial context, given that placebo-controlled trials do not subject participants to serious or irreversible harm, placebo use is ethically justified because the participation is autonomous. In the clinical practice context, assuming that the open use of placebos is ineffective, placebos can be used deceptively without violating patients’ right of autonomy and therefore can also be ethically justified.