Nocebo effect - what is it? And what can we do about it?

Date Published: 
Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Professor Keith Petrie talks about the 'nocebo' effect. Keith is a professor in the Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Auckland and has made significant contributions to health, medicine and psycho-immunology. His Illness Perception Questionnaire (IPQ) is widely cited, and its use has advanced the understanding of how people perceive and respond to illness, with implications for recovery.



  • Definition of the nocebo effect.
  • Why should we be aware of this effect?
  • Examples of nocebo effect in practice.
  • How to reduce the effect?
  • How powerful is our language and patient relationship when thinking about this effect?
  • Are there any populations to be more aware of?
  • Nocebo effect and new technology.


Take home messages

  • The nocebo effect is an important part of medical practice.
  • Essentially, it’s a problem of misattribution.
  • Those that are susceptible tend to believe they are more sensitive to the effect of medicines and have higher levels of anxiety.
  • Clinician-patient relationship is important, as is providing information framed positively.




Professor Keith Petrie 
Department of Psychological Medicine

To contact Keith Click here.




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