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Table 1 Summary of adverse effects in placebo groups within trials

From: Rapid overview of systematic reviews of nocebo effects reported by patients taking placebos in clinical trials

Author Disease Trials (no patients in placebo group) Adverse events (%) Dropouts due to intolerance (%)
Amanzio, 2009 Migraine    
NSAID placebos   10 (337) 4.16 1.00
Triptans placebos   3 (289) 2.08 0.39
Anticonvulsant placebos   6 (142) 5.57 7.71
Häuser, 2012a Fibromyalgia 58 (5027) 59.90 9.60
Painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy 62 (5086) 46.20 5.80
Häuser, 2012b Fibromyalgia syndrome 18 (3546)   10.90
Koog, 2014a Any treated by acupuncture 58 (2249) 13 1.36
Koog, 2014b Knee osteoarthritis 281 (22,284) 27 4.80
Mahr, 2017 Any 231 (149,855) 73 5.10
Mahr, 2017 (additional)
Meister, 2017 Depression 23 (2929) 57.00 4.00
Mitsikostas, 2010 Headaches 56 (n/a)   
Symptomatic treatments   n/a (n/a) 18.45 0.33
Prophylactic treatments   n/a (n/a) 42.78 4.75
Mitsikostas, 2012 Fibromyalgia 16 (2016) 67.20 9.50
Mitsikostas, 2014 Depression 21 (3255) 44.70 4.50
Papadopoulos, 2010 Multiple sclerosis    
Symptomatic treatments   44 (1732) 25.30 2.10
Disease-modifying treatments   56 (5623) 74.42 2.34
Papadopoulos, 2012 Neuropathic pain 12 (943) 52 6.00
Rief, 2006 Cardiovascular disease    17.61
Rief, 2009 Depression or anxiety 143 (12,742)   24.70
TCA studies     
SSRI studies     
Rojas-Mirquez, 2014 Depression 16 (739) 64%  
Shafiq, 2017 Motor neuron disease 12 (1288) 78.30 8.40
Silva, 2017 Restless leg syndrome 72 (5040) 45.36 2.07
Stathis, 2013 Parkinson’s disease 41 (3544) 64.70 8.80
Zis, 2015 Alzheimer’s disease 20 (3049) 57.80 6.60
Zis, 2017 Refractory partial epilepsy (during pre-surgical monitoring) 4 (125) 76.80 3.20
Median (IQR)    49.1% (25.8–64.5%) 5% (2.3–8.4%)
  1. FMS fibromyalgia syndrome, DPN diabetic peripheral neuropathy