Cardiopulmonary MedicineCOMMENTARY

Use of Beat-to-Beat Cardiovascular Variability Data to Determine the Validity of Sham Therapy as the Placebo Control in Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine Research

Charles E. Henley, DO, MPH, and Thad E. Wilson, PhD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: May 12, 2014

Accepted: May 22, 2014

Published: November 1, 2014

J Osteopath Med; 114(11): 860-866

Osteopathic manipulative medicine researchers often use sham therapy as the placebo control during clinical trials. Optimally, the sham therapy should be a hands-on procedure that is perceptually indistinguishable from osteopathic manipulative treatment, does not create an effect on its own, and is not a treatment intervention. However, the sham therapy itself may often influence the outcome. The use of cardiovascular variability (eg, beat-to-beat heart rate variability) as a surrogate for the autonomic nervous system is one objective method by which to identify such an effect. By monitoring cardiovascular variability, investigators can assess autonomic nervous system activity as a response to the sham therapy and quickly determine whether or not the selected sham therapy is a true placebo control. The authors provide evidence for assessment of beat-to-beat heart rate variability as one method for assuring objectivity of sham therapy as a placebo control in osteopathic manipulative medicine research. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2014;114(11):860-866 doi: 10.7556/jaoa.2014.172

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