The design of RCTs for meditation (or any behaviour-based therapy for that matter) involves a number of unique challenges compared with pharmacological trials. While both categories of trial use an inactive placebo, the pharmaceutical trial uses an inert “sugar tablet” which appears similar to the medication being administered. The participant taking the “sugar tablet” is unable to ascertain whether or not they are taking the active or placebo treatment thus allowing the trial to control for confounding factors that may contribute to changes in the participants condition other than that caused by the treatment being studied.

More information about the use of placebos in meditation research can be found at Dr Manocha’s website.

Ramesh Manocha.