he group that was warned the experience would be particularly unpleasant. In addition, the abnormal stomach activity that typically accompanies nausea was 30 percent higher in the control group.
‘Surprisingly, symptoms of nausea and motion sickness were least severe among participants told their experience would be made more unpleasant by the drug,’ said Levine, an assistant professor of gastroenterology.
The authors hypothesize that once the drum began to rotate, the group that was told they should anticipate a sickening experience may have experienced something far more innocuous than they had expected.
‘Those who unnecessarily braced themselves for a torturous ordeal may have been calmed or relaxed by what they experienced,’ wrote the authors.
Levine said the findings have implications for patients who experience nausea as part of an illness or treatment.
‘Being prepared to experience a negative reaction to the drum was associated with less nausea and more normal stomach activity, suggesting that how patients are prepared for potentially adverse events can meaningfully affect their responses to them,’ he said. ‘If patients are informed about what they will likely be going through over the course of an illness or treatment, it may influence their ability to cope with the symptoms once they develop.’
Levine said that if further research can demonstrate that expectations regarding the development of nausea can control the unpleasantness of the symptoms that develop, there could be profound implications for the treatment of people whose illness or treatment involves nausea.
Co-researchers were Robert M. Stern, Ph.D., with the Pennsylvania State University, and Kenneth L. Koch, M.D., with Wake Forest.
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