7 ways to prevent the nocebo effect
Negative communication during treatment can significantly reduce the pharmacological effectiveness of pain medication, according to a growing body of evidence.
Research shows that overemphasising negative side-effects can inadvertently induce a reaction similar to the nocebo effect.
The authors of a recent paper give seven tips for preventing this in pain therapy:
- Emphasise positive drug effects and avoid overemphasising adverse effects.
- Explain the mechanisms of drug action.
- Speak to the patient rather than just providing written material.
- Manage expectations. Research shows those with negative expectations have a worse outcome.
- Always tell the patient what they are taking. Unintentionally hiding information results in a significant lack of positive effects from the medication.
- Be aware that patients' emotional burden while undertaking pain management treatments can interfere with the intervention's positive effects.
- Treating pain adequately in early life as well as in non-communicative patients helps to avoid cued and contextual conditioning nocebo effects.