Implications of placebo and nocebo effects for clinical practice: Expert consensus
Evers AWM., Colloca L., Blease C., Annoni M., Atlas LY., Benedetti F., Bingel U., Büchel C., Carvalho C., Colagiuri B., Crum AJ., Enck P., Gaab J., Geers AL., Howick J., Jensen KB., Kirsch I., Meissner K., Napadow V., Peerdeman KJ., Raz A., Rief W., Vase L., Wager TD., Wampold BE., Weimer K., Wiech K., Kaptchuk TJ., Klinger R., Kelley JM.
© 2018 S. Karger AG, Basel. Copyright: All rights reserved. Background: Placebo and nocebo effects occur in clinical or laboratory medical contexts after administration of an inert treatment or as part of active treatments and are due to psychobiological mechanisms such as expectancies of the patient. Placebo and nocebo studies have evolved from predominantly methodological research into a far-reaching interdisciplinary field that is unravelling the neurobiological, behavioural and clinical underpinnings of these phenomena in a broad variety of medical conditions. As a consequence, there is an increasing demand from health professionals to develop expert recommendations about evidence-based and ethical use of placebo and nocebo effects for clinical practice. Methods: A survey and interdisciplinary expert meeting by invitation was organized as part of the 1st Society for Interdisciplinary Placebo Studies (SIPS) conference in 2017. Twenty-nine internationally recognized placebo researchers participated. Results: There was consensus that maximizing placebo effects and minimizing nocebo effects should lead to better treatment outcomes with fewer side effects. Experts particularly agreed on the importance of informing patients about placebo and nocebo effects and training health professionals in patient-clinician communication to maximize placebo and minimize nocebo effects. Conclusions: The current paper forms a first step towards developing evidence-based and ethical recommendations about the implications of placebo and nocebo research for medical practice, based on the current state of evidence and the consensus of experts. Future research might focus on how to implement these recommendations, including how to optimize conditions for educating patients about placebo and nocebo effects and providing training for the implementation in clinical practice.