Placebos work — even without deception

first_imgFor most of us, the “placebo effect” is synonymous with the power of positive thinking; it works because you believe you’re taking a real drug. But a new study rattles this assumption.Researchers at Harvard Medical School’s (HMS) Osher Research Center and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) have found that placebos work even when administered without the seemingly requisite deception.The study is published Dec. 22 in PLoS ONE.Placebos — or dummy pills — are typically used in clinical trials as controls for potential new medications. Even though placebos contain no active ingredients, patients often respond to them. In fact, data on placebos is so compelling that many American physicians (one study estimates 50 percent) secretly give placebos to unsuspecting patients.Because such “deception” is ethically questionable, HMS Associate Professor of Medicine Ted Kaptchuk teamed up with colleagues at BIDMC to explore whether the power of placebos can be harnessed honestly and respectfully.To do this, 80 patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) were divided into two groups: one group, the controls, received no treatment, while the other group received a regimen of placebos — honestly described as “like sugar pills” — which they were instructed to take twice daily.“Not only did we make it absolutely clear that these pills had no active ingredient and were made from inert substances, but we actually had ‘placebo’ printed on the bottle,” says Kaptchuk. “We told the patients that they didn’t have to even believe in the placebo effect. Just take the pills.”For a three-week period, the patients were monitored. By the end of the trial, nearly twice as many patients treated with the placebo reported adequate symptom relief as compared with the control group (59 percent vs. 35 percent).  Also, on other outcome measures, patients taking the placebo doubled their rates of improvement to a degree roughly equivalent to the effects of the most powerful IBS medications.“I didn’t think it would work,” says senior author Anthony Lembo, HMS associate professor of medicine at BIDMC and an expert on IBS. “I felt awkward asking patients to literally take a placebo. But to my surprise, it seemed to work for many of them.”The authors caution that this study is small and limited in scope and simply opens the door to the notion that placebos are effective even for the fully informed patient — a hypothesis that will need to be confirmed in larger trials.“Nevertheless,” says Kaptchuk, “these findings suggest that rather than mere positive thinking, there may be significant benefit to the very performance of medical ritual. I’m excited about studying this further. Placebo may work even if patients know it is a placebo.”This study was funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the Osher Research Center, Harvard Medical School.last_img read more

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Clara Rojas says She Has “Forgiven” Ingrid Betancourt for Her Kidnapping

first_imgBy Dialogo April 14, 2009 SANTIAGO, April 12, 2009 (AFP) – Clara Rojas, former hostage of FARC Colombian guerrillas, said that she has “forgiven” her fellow-in-captivity, former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, for her kidnapping, after releasing “Cautiva” (Captive), a book which recounts the six years she spent in the jungle. “Of course, I have forgiven Ingrid. The sense of my book is turning a page. Now I hope to start other projects that will allow me to forget,” Rojas told the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio in an interview published on Sunday. Ingrid Betancourt and Clara Rojas were abducted on February 23, 2002 while traveling to campaign for the first presidential election in the Colombian region of San Vicente del Caguan, a dangerous area due to the presence of guerrillas. “My mistake, if it existed, occurred that same day. I should have been firm with her (Betancourt), although it would have not been easy. I should have told her that I would not go, to see if she had the guts to go alone,” said Rojas. During captivity, Bentancourt and Rojas drifted apart because of “situations that are not explainable. I myself cannot understand them. There was not a discrete situation, but various things that added up,” said the former hostage. Clara Rojas said that after two escape attempts during the first month of captivity, she and Betancourt started to blame each other. The punishment after the second failed attempt – they were discovered due to Ingrid’s cries when she was attacked by wasps – was chaining. “I never made personal claims of any kind. But, of course, there are pains that you carry in your soul,” said Rojas, who has only seen Ingrid Betancourt twice after she was released by the guerrillas in July 2008. Meanwhile, Rojas was released in January 2008 along with former Colombian congresswoman Consuelo González de Perdomo, as a gesture by the FARC toward Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. During her captivity, Rojas gave birth to a boy – Emmanuel – fathered by one of her captors. He was separated from his mother when he was eight months old by insurgents and given to a peasant. Upon her release, Rojas was reunited with her son, and both currently live in Bogotá.last_img read more

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Hey, credit union CEOs, time to put your money where your mouth is!!

first_img 34SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Meredith Olmstead Meredith Olmstead is the CEO and Founder of FI GROW Solutions, which provides Digital Marketing & Sales services to Community Financial Institutions. With experience working with FIs in markets of … Web: www.figrow.com Details Ok, so now that I have your attention, we really need to talk about your priorities. It’s been a few years now that I’ve worked with only Credit Unions around marketing, and now sales, and I’m continually noticing one thing again, and again… there seems to be a desire from CEOs to shift your approach to growth, but a lack of real commitment to make this change happen.Let me be more specific. In a recent survey from my friends at CU Grow, they noted that the average Financial Institution spent $40k on their website, but the average branch construction costs well over $1 million, and this doesn’t even include annual maintenance costs!Now my agency doesn’t even sell website redesign services, so I’m not complaining here in hopes to line my own pockets. But my point is this… your website is: Your BEST sales person, Your branch that literally NEVER closes, and Your highest trafficked location, by a MILE!! So, what gives with these kinds of budgeting priorities? A website should be constantly tweaked, maintained and optimized; it should be designed out of the gate to convert leads, and sell, and this won’t happen with a measly budget and 3 years of stagnation until you touch it again! This shift is called growth driven design, and it works! (Google it!)And the website process is just the start of my complaints around Credit Union budgeting. What about marketing? I consistently see mid-sized CUs with only one person in the marketing department, or maybe two, if they are lucky. But these staff are constantly asked to do projects outside of their marketing area of responsibility. They often don’t have the time for or access to on-going training to stay up to speed on the changing marketing place, and they lack marketing budgets that are flexible and growing. Again and again I hear from CEOs that they want loan growth, member growth, member engagement, and to better connect marketing leads with conversions. But you can’t do all of this without making a real commitment to process, and that requires three main things: 1. Staff, 2. Budget and 3. Time! Here’s why…STAFFING CHANGES NEEDEDNow I’m not saying you need to go out and hire a bunch of new people, but there are two clear shifts happening within the FIs that I see having the most digital success. First, Cus need to train your teams around the changing consumer buying journey and how to better reach members and potential new members online and via mobile. This can include working with an outside partner for training or attending one of the many training programs put on by CUNA or other great national and regional conferences. I also firmly believe that you should encourage (require) staff to allocate 1-3 hours per week for online training of some kind, and then make sure they have the time available to make this happen. (And this means NOT over loading them with ad hoc requests of all sorts that fill up their days!!) Secondly, if I were a CEO at a Credit Union today, I would strongly consider consolidating marketing and sales staff under one departmental umbrella of business development or revenue growth. This is needed because marketing and sales teams MUST be more closely aligned to better coordinate the handoff of digital leads for sales follow up. And having revenue teams that work together to meet growth goals is the key! There should be absolutely NO competition between these two groups for staffing or budget. It must be a unified effort.BUDGET SHIFTS THAT WORKNow here’s where things get tricky for me, as I’m NOT a numbers girl, and would never claim to be. But I just know that FIs have the funds they need to make many of the changes I’ve already mentioned. The money is somewhere, it’s just about priorities. If branch walk-in traffic is down, then what are you doing to re-purpose your staff in those locations to better leverage their expertise and knowledge?Why not create a team of marketing and member service (sales) professionals that work as a unit, some in headquarters AND some in branches, and connect marketing and sales efforts with actual conversions? Give them a shared budget for digital ads, social media, a marketing tool or integrated CRM, and content creation, and then let them use these channels to bring in new members or launch campaigns to cross-sell to existing members?The FIs we see having the most success have done just this. They’ve created a large team that spans departments and brings talented staff members together in multiple locations. But this isn’t the status quo, it’s not easy, and it takes budget and time to develop.IT’S A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINTI was on the phone with a CEO last week and he and I had a great conversation about all of these shifts in digital priorities and approaches. And then he asked me, “well this is all great and I like it, but how can I grow loans now?” Truly, I was at a loss. See, I’m not in the business of driving short-term bumps in loan growth for an FI. That’s just not what we do, and that kind of short-sighted approach will not lead to long-term success.We are advocates of the long game, and do you want to know why? The average banking consumer takes 3 weeks to 6 months to make a new account or product decision! And they consult on average 8.9 sources of information along the way. These are big purchases for most people, and these kinds of decision don’t happen overnight.Furthermore, hawking special rates to get short-term loan growth won’t help your FI build a foundation for long-term success. In order to remain relevant in this age of Fintech and online-only banking opportunities, Credit Unions need to continue to build trust and rapport with their members. And you don’t do this with fly-by-night rate promotions. You do this by providing meaningful financial solutions and building real relationships with members. You do this by being understanding, and treating members with care and compassion. And these things can be highlighted digitally with great content, testimonials, and thoughtful campaigns.These are the characteristics that make CUs continue to stand out in today’s financial world, and these will be the foundation for building future success. But without proper staffing, budgeting priorities and a time commitment to the process, these advantages will be lost to big banks and ever evolving Fintech solutions.If you want to learn more or if we can help please get in touch! We live for this stuff! ☺last_img read more

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Alvarez readies for final Camp Randall experience

first_imgMATTHEW KUTZ/Herald photoHead football coach Barry Alvarez has a post–game policy for his team: win or lose, the players have 24 hours to forget the previous contest. There is no time to dwell on what has happened and what can no longer be controlled. Alvarez holds himself accountable to the same rule, and last Saturday’s loss at Penn State was no exception.“When I talked to [the media] after the game it was beyond me,” Alvarez said. “I put that game behind me as soon as I talked to the kids. We were beaten by a better football team. I felt our guys competed, but Penn State was a better football team than we were. I just sat back and looked at all we have to play for in this game, all the things that are on the line in this game coming back home. I put that game behind me.”Despite being all but eliminated from the Big Ten Championship race, the Badgers (8–2, 5–2) have a multitude of reasons to look toward the weekend’s match up with Iowa (5–4, 3–3). In addition to being the seniors’ last home game, Saturday will be the last time Alvarez will make the trip through the tunnel under sections L and M and onto the field at historic Camp Randall Stadium.“I really haven’t thought of it much,” Alvarez said regarding his final head coaching appearance at home. “My weekly schedule is pretty much routine. As it gets closer to Saturday, it’ll probably hit me.”The final two conference games Alvarez has and will coach, seem to be an appropriate end to a tremendously successful career.“My last two games as a coach here, I play in my home state, and then play the school that gave me the opportunity,” said Alvarez, referring to his childhood days in Langeloth, Pa., and his first Division I coaching job as an assistant under Hayden Fry at Iowa.“I was very fond of the eight years I coached at the University of Iowa. I was fortunate enough to be around some unbelievable coaches. It’s been well written about the staff we had and how successful they’ve been,” Alvarez added.After his time at Iowa, Alvarez was hired as an assistant under Lou Holtz at Notre Dame. In 1990, Alvarez was named head coach at University of Wisconsin and given the responsibility of resurrecting a football program that had compiled a 9–36 record over the past 4 years.“My first year, we just wanted to get a different color practice jersey, and they turned me down because we didn’t have enough money,” Alvarez recalled. “We’ve changed everything, from how the offices ran, to people in the stadium and interest in the program, to the type of players that we have, to facilities.”Alvarez has been undeniably successful in his 16 years as head football coach at Wisconsin. He has led the Badgers to 10 bowl games in the last 12 years. This comes after the school made only six postseason appearances in the program’s previous 103 years. Additionally, Alvarez is largely responsible for today’s overwhelming popularity of Wisconsin football. As evidence of what a staple Wisconsin football has become, at least 70,000 people have packed Camp Randall for 80 straight Badger home games.Despite all of his achievements at Wisconsin, including the unexpected success of this year’s team, he hasn’t questioned his decision to pass the torch to defensive coordinator Bret Bielema.“I try to think things out well enough before I make a decision,” Alvarez responded when asked whether he has questioned his decision to step down. “I’ve never looked back and thought ‘I shouldn’t have done this.’ I really feel comfortable and I’m very at peace with my decision. I’m just really pleased that we had this type of year.”last_img read more

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