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The placebo effect of hyperbaric oxygen therapy - fact or fiction?

Abidia, A; Kuhan, G; Laden, G; Bahia, H; Chetter, Ian; McCollum, PT


A Abidia

G Kuhan

G Laden

H Bahia

Ian Chetter

PT McCollum


BACKGROUND: Patients undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO) frequently report improvement in their health status; however, it is debatable whether this is a true effect of HBO or a placebo. We aimed to investigate the placebo effect of receiving HBO. METHODS: 18 Patients with diabetic foot ulcers were randomised, in a double blind study, either to receive hyperbaric 100percent oxygen (treatment group) or hyperbaric air (placebo group), at 2.4 atmospheres of absolute pressure for 90 minutes daily, for a total of 30 treatments. Two generic health status questionnaires, SF-36 Health Survey and HADS (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale) were used to assess the patients before commencing the treatment, and after day 1, day 15 and day 30. RESULTS: HADS detected a significant reduction in the depression score in both groups (p=0.001) and a significant reduction in anxiety levels in the control group (p=0.025). In five of the eight domains of the SF-36, the treatment had no significant effect in either group. Patients in the treatment group reported significant improvement in the General Health domain (p=0.008), in the Vitality domain (p=0.01), in the Mental Health domain (p=0.05), and in their overall Health Transition (p=0.04). In contrast, there was no significant difference in the placebo group in all domains of the SF-36. CONCLUSION: Patients receiving hyperbaric oxygen reported a significant improvement in their health related quality of life. In contrast, the placebo effect of hyperbaric therapy as measured by SF-36 was insignificant. Nevertheless, HADS has detected a significant reduction in both anxiety and depression scores in the placebo group.

Publication Date Dec 31, 2001
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
APA6 Citation Abidia, A., Kuhan, G., Laden, G., Bahia, H., Chetter, I., & McCollum, P. (2001). The placebo effect of hyperbaric oxygen therapy - fact or fiction?
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