You Know the Placebo Effect. Now There's the Nocebo Effect.

How a doctor informs patients of possible negative side effects partially determines how the patient will experience those effects. So should doctors tone down the warnings?

What's the Latest Development?


Similar to the placebo effect, in which a fake medication can give patients the benefits of having taken the real drug, the nocebo effect is the little-studied fact that patients taking a fake drug can also experience real negative side effects. "In one remarkable case, a participant in an antidepressant drug trial was given placebo tablets—and then swallowed 26 of them in a suicide attempt. Even though the tablets were harmless, the participant's blood pressure dropped perilously low." Other data comes from drug trials where patients stop taking their placebo pills because they experience adverse side effects. 

What's the Big Idea?

The nocebo effect extends beyond fake medication to drugs that doctors prescribe patients for genuine medical problems. How doctors warn patients of side effects partially determines how those effects will be experienced. "The nocebo effect presents doctors and nurses with an ethical dilemma: on one hand, they are required to tell patients about the potential complications of a treatment; on the other hand, they want to minimize the likelihood of side effects. But if merely telling patients about side effects increases their likelihood, what is to be done?" Psychologists recommend doctors receive better training in how to communicate with patients. 

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

10 books to check out from Jordan Peterson's 'Great Books' list

The Canadian professor has an extensive collection posted on his site.

Jordan Peterson with Carl Jung and the cover art of Jaak Panksepp's 'Affective Neuroscience' (Image: Chris Williamson/Getty Images/Big Think)
Personal Growth
  • Peterson's Great Books list features classics by Orwell, Jung, Huxley, and Dostoevsky.
  • Categories include literature, neuroscience, religion, and systems analysis.
  • Having recently left Patreon for "freedom of speech" reasons, Peterson is taking direct donations through Paypal (and Bitcoin).
Keep reading Show less

Scientists claim the Bible is written in code that predicts future events

The controversy around the Torah codes gets a new life.

Michael Drosnin
Surprising Science
  • Mathematicians claim to see a predictive pattern in the ancient Torah texts.
  • The code is revealed by a method found with special computer software.
  • Some events described by reading the code took place after the code was written.
Keep reading Show less

Should you invest in China's stock market? Know this one thing first.

Despite incredible economic growth, it is not necessarily an investor's paradise.

Videos
  • China's stock market is just 27 years old. It's economy has grown 30x over that time.
  • Imagine if you had invested early and gotten in on the ground floor.
  • Actually, you would have lost money. Here's how that's possible.