Background: Placebo and nocebo effects embody psychoneurobiological phenomena where behavioural, neurophysiological, perceptive and cognitive changes occur during the therapeutic encounter in the healthcare context. Placebo effects are produced by a positive healthcare context; while nocebo effects are consequences of negative healthcare context. Historically, placebo, nocebo and context-related effects were considered as confounding elements for clinicians and researchers. In the last two decades this attitude started to change, and the understanding of the value of these effects has increased. Despite the growing interest, the knowledge and the awareness of using the healthcare context to trigger placebo and nocebo effects is currently limited and heterogeneous among physiotherapists, reducing their translational value in the physiotherapy field. Objectives: To introduce the placebo, nocebo and context-related effects by: (1) presenting their psychological models; (2) describing their neurophysiological mechanisms; (3) underlining their impact for the physiotherapy profession; and (4) tracing lines for future researches. Conclusion: Several psychological mechanisms are involved in placebo, nocebo and context-related effects; including expectation, learning processes (classical conditioning and observational learning), reinforced expectations, mindset and personality traits. The neurophysiological mechanisms mainly include the endogenous opioid, the endocannabinoid and the dopaminergic systems. Neuroimaging studies have identified different brain regions involved such as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the rostral anterior cingulate cortex, the periaqueductal gray and the dorsal horn of spine. From a clinical perspective, the manipulation of the healthcare context with the best evidence-based therapy represents an opportunity to trigger placebo effects and to avoid nocebo effects respecting the ethical code of conduct. From a managerial perspective, stakeholders, organizations and governments should encourage the assessment of the healthcare context aimed to improve the quality of physiotherapy services. From an educational perspective, placebo and nocebo effects are professional topics that should be integrated in the university program of health and medical professions. From a research perspective, the control of placebo, nocebo and context-related effects offers to the scientific community the chance to better measure the impact of physiotherapy on different outcomes and in different conditions through primary studies.

Context matters: the psychoneurobiological determinants of placebo, nocebo and context-related effects in physiotherapy

Carlino, Elisa;Benedetti, Fabrizio;
2020-01-01

Abstract

Background: Placebo and nocebo effects embody psychoneurobiological phenomena where behavioural, neurophysiological, perceptive and cognitive changes occur during the therapeutic encounter in the healthcare context. Placebo effects are produced by a positive healthcare context; while nocebo effects are consequences of negative healthcare context. Historically, placebo, nocebo and context-related effects were considered as confounding elements for clinicians and researchers. In the last two decades this attitude started to change, and the understanding of the value of these effects has increased. Despite the growing interest, the knowledge and the awareness of using the healthcare context to trigger placebo and nocebo effects is currently limited and heterogeneous among physiotherapists, reducing their translational value in the physiotherapy field. Objectives: To introduce the placebo, nocebo and context-related effects by: (1) presenting their psychological models; (2) describing their neurophysiological mechanisms; (3) underlining their impact for the physiotherapy profession; and (4) tracing lines for future researches. Conclusion: Several psychological mechanisms are involved in placebo, nocebo and context-related effects; including expectation, learning processes (classical conditioning and observational learning), reinforced expectations, mindset and personality traits. The neurophysiological mechanisms mainly include the endogenous opioid, the endocannabinoid and the dopaminergic systems. Neuroimaging studies have identified different brain regions involved such as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the rostral anterior cingulate cortex, the periaqueductal gray and the dorsal horn of spine. From a clinical perspective, the manipulation of the healthcare context with the best evidence-based therapy represents an opportunity to trigger placebo effects and to avoid nocebo effects respecting the ethical code of conduct. From a managerial perspective, stakeholders, organizations and governments should encourage the assessment of the healthcare context aimed to improve the quality of physiotherapy services. From an educational perspective, placebo and nocebo effects are professional topics that should be integrated in the university program of health and medical professions. From a research perspective, the control of placebo, nocebo and context-related effects offers to the scientific community the chance to better measure the impact of physiotherapy on different outcomes and in different conditions through primary studies.
2020
10
1
11
18
Conditioning; Contextual factors; Expectation; Learning; Nocebo effect; Pain; Physical therapy modalities; Placebo effect; Rehabilitation; Therapeutic outcome
Rossettini, Giacomo; Camerone, Eleonora Maria; Carlino, Elisa; Benedetti, Fabrizio; Testa, Marco
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2318/1888191
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? 30
  • Scopus 76
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact