Navigation Links
The 'Nocebo' Effect: If You Think You'll Get Sick, You Will
Date:8/10/2012

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Aug. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Some patients will feel better after taking a medication even if the drug doesn't actually do anything to treat their condition. It's called the "placebo effect." But there's another side to the power of suggestion: Patients may develop symptoms and side effects purely because they've been told about them.

A new report analyzes the so-called "nocebo effect" and suggests that doctors learn how to better "exploit the power of words" for the benefit of patients. Patients themselves are crucial players, too, said study lead author Dr. Winfried Hauser, an associate professor of psychosomatic medicine at the Klinikum Saarbrucken in Germany.

"It is not only the power of the mostly unintentionally negative words of physicians and nurses, but also the power of negative expectations, negative experiences and fears of the patients," Hauser said.

The report, which recently appeared in the journal Deutsches Arzteblatt International, examines existing research about the nocebo effect and finds that scientists and doctors have spent very little time trying to understand it. About 2,200 studies have examined the placebo effect, but only a few dozen explored the nocebo effect.

In one study, researchers randomly divided 50 patients with chronic back pain into two groups: One was told that a leg-flexing test could boost their pain slightly, while the other was told that it wouldn't affect their pain. Those who were warned about pain reported actually having more pain and didn't perform as well on the test.

Research has also shown that people who think they might get a drug can develop its side effects even if it's not actually administered.

The words of doctors and nurses can affect patients negatively, too. "Patients are highly receptive to negative suggestion, particularly in situations perceived as existentially threatening, such as impending surgery, acute severe illness, or an accident," the researchers wrote. "Persons in extreme situations are often in a natural trance state and thus highly suggestible. This state of consciousness leaves those affected vulnerable to misunderstandings arising from literal interpretations, ambiguities and negative suggestion."

Medical staff members can trigger problems by emphasizing the negative ("you are a high-risk patient"), being uncertain ("this medication may help"), focusing attention on things like pain and nausea ("signal if you feel pain") and trivializing the situation ("you don't need to worry"), the report noted.

Researchers are still trying to figure out which kinds of people are more susceptible to suggestion and why.

So what can be done? Hauser said physicians and nurses should get training in how to better communicate with patients to avoid instilling negative suggestions. Hauser also made a suggestion that has ethical implications: Patients may not need as much information about the bad things that might happen.

"We have to consider reducing the amount of negative information on potential side effects given in patient briefings and prescription details," Hauser said.

Ted Kaptchuk, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School who studies the placebo effect, praised the report but said the suggestion about giving less information raises ethical questions. "If we don't tell patients about adverse effects, we are unethical and not transparent and not (providing an opportunity for) full informed consent," he said. "But if we tell people, it actually may produce harm. This is a fundamental issue in all health care: honesty versus harm."

What can patients themselves do about the nocebo effect? They "should be aware of the power of their expectations and beliefs in a medical treatment," Hauser said. "If you decide to undergo a medical treatment, believe that it will work well."

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about the placebo effect.

SOURCES: Ted J. Kaptchuk, O.M.D., associate professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston; Winfried Hauser, M.D., associate professor of psychosomatic medicine, Klinikum Saarbrucken, Saarbrucken, Germany; June 29, 2012, Deutsches Arzteblatt International


'/>"/>
Copyright©2012 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Nocebo: Induced to be ill
2. Molecule movements that make us think
3. More Evidence Bilingualism Aids Thinking Skills
4. Virgin male moths think theyre hot when theyre not
5. What does it mean to be cool? It may not be what you think
6. Sending sexually explicit photos by cell phone -- more common among teens than you might think
7. Graphic Cig Pack Labels Make Smokers Think, Study Finds
8. Colds May Be Even More Common Than People Think
9. Why cancer rate increases with age (its not what you think)
10. Humanities mini-courses for doctors sharpen thinking and creativity
11. Migraines Not Linked to Decline in Thinking Skills
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
The 'Nocebo' Effect: If You Think You'll Get Sick, You Will
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Global Healthcare Management’s 4th Annual Kids ... Milford, NJ. This free event, sponsored by Global Healthcare Management’s CEO, Jon Letko, ... run is geared towards children of all ages; it is a non-competitive, non-timed event, ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... “America On The Brink”: the Christian history ... The Brink” is the creation of published author, William Nowers. Captain Nowers and ... WWII veteran, he spent thirty years in the Navy. Following his career as ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... Fla. (PRWEB) , ... October 12, 2017 , ... IsoComforter, ... therapy products, announced today the introduction of an innovative new design of the shoulder ... pad so you get maximum comfort while controlling your pain while using cold therapy. ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... Malvern, PA (PRWEB) , ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... is the recipient of a 2017 Folio Magazine Eddie Digital Award for ‘Best ... New York City on October 11, 2017. , The annual award competition recognizes editorial ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... In ... taxes a year. In some states—like New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Texas, Virginia, ... overseas retirement havens have extremely low property-tax rates, which contributes to the relatively ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... DIEGO , Oct. 12, 2017   Divoti USA ... Alert Jewelry up to the standard of the latest FDA requirements, ... June 2017). Anyone in need of Medical ID jewelry ... Medical Alert Jewelry are engraved in terms of the ... Divoti ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... Holdings, Inc. ("Hill-Rom") (NYSE: HRC), today provided an update ... Puerto Rico , where the company manufactures ... Following a comprehensive onsite assessment, the ... temporary loss of power and minimal water damage due ... have resumed, and the company expects to return to ...
(Date:10/4/2017)... , Oct. 4, 2017  South Korean-based healthcare product ... training aide "cprCUBE" on Kickstarter. The device will educate ... cardiac arrests with better efficiency compared to the dated ... real-time feedback on efficacy of the compression for a ... has a goal to raise $5,000. ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: