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Papers of the Week

Papers: 2 Dec 2023 - 8 Dec 2023

2023 Dec





Placebo and nocebo in the treatment of migraine: How much does real world effectiveness depend on contextual effects?


Basedau H, Ornello R, Matteis E, Davaasuren B, Kadyrova B, Vuralli D, Bozhenko M, Azizova I, Bitsadze N, Eralieva E, Ashina M, Mitsikostas D, Puledda F


Treatments in medicine impact individuals beyond their intended effects, due to phenomena such as the placebo and nocebo effects. The placebo effect arises from the positive expectation of a treatment being beneficial, while the nocebo effect stems from the negative expectation of a treatment causing harm. Both in real-world practice and clinical trials, treatments can lead to outcomes unrelated to their intended mechanism of action, which we categorize as placebo and nocebo responses. These responses, combined with the inherent fluctuation in a condition’s natural progression, regression to the mean, and random comorbidities, make up a significant part of the therapeutic experience. Particularly in pain management, placebo and nocebo effects play a substantial role. By addressing modifiable contextual factors such as patient expectations, lifestyle choices, and the therapeutic relationship, healthcare providers can enhance the effectiveness of migraine treatments, paving the way for a more comprehensive, individualized approach to patient care. We must also consider non-modifiable factors like personal experiences, beliefs, and information from social media and the internet.