Beware nocebo effect on clinical outcomes, Aust psychiatrist warns

Professor Michael Berk, from the University of Melbourne, defined the nocebo effect as a non-pharmacodynamic unpleasant or harmful side-effect when receiving an inactive treatment.

In a review, Professor Berk and a Portuguese colleague noted that meta-analyses have reported prevalence of the nocebo effect in studies as being up to 74%. Nocebo effects often came to light in examination of adverse reactions reported by patients in the placebo arm of clinical trials, the authors said.

“Traits such as neuroticism, pessimism and type A

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