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:5/5/2016)... Virginia Washington, DC (PRWEB) , ... ... ... Media Contact: Claudia Tellez, Executive Director 703.462.0658, ctellez(at)msnva.org , The Medical Society ... for community physicians and their patients , The Medical Society of Northern ...
(Date:5/5/2016)... ... , ... Linfield College Online and Continuing Education is encouraging registered nurses to ... fee for all qualified applicants from May 1–14. Students need only go to the ... . , With the RN to BSN degree program, all core ...
(Date:5/5/2016)... FL (PRWEB) , ... May 05, 2016 , ... In ... is easy to forget the most important arrangement — planning a safe way of ... celebrations and popular tequila drinks. Unfortunately, these celebrations often lead to drunk drivers on ...
(Date:5/5/2016)... ... May 05, 2016 , ... Is the part in your ... just a few days away, it’s a good opportunity to raise awareness about a ... American Academy of Dermatology, 40% of women experience hair loss or ‘thinning’ by the ...
(Date:5/5/2016)... ... May 05, 2016 , ... BloodHub, the nation’s ... service orders. Blood suppliers and their hospitals use BloodHub for order management, ... active users across 2,100 hospitals who use our platform to processes thousands of ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/4/2016)...  Compass Diversified Holdings (NYSE: CODI ) ... leading middle market businesses, announced today its consolidated operating ... First Quarter 2016 Highlights , Generated ... "Cash Flow") of $13.6 million for the first quarter ... million for the first quarter of 2016; , ...
(Date:5/4/2016)... May 4, 2016 Yissum ... announced today that it had signed an exclusive ... , developer of novel protein degradation and immunomodulatory drugs ... commercialization of drug candidates representing first-in-class therapy for hematologic ... not disclosed. The novel technology was developed ...
(Date:5/4/2016)... May 4, 2016 ... the  "Global Acute Myeloid Leukemia Market and ... their offering.       (Logo: ... Leukemia Market and Competitive Landscape Highlights 2016, ... pipeline products, Acute Myeloid Leukemia epidemiology, Acute ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: