Manipulating patient expectations boosts the effects of painkillers

Share this article:

A person's reaction to a painkiller can be influenced by how a healthcare provider manages the individual's expectations when therapy is administered, a new study finds. Pain experts say the findings could have a big impact on patient care and how drugs are tested.

British researchers observed 22 patients complaining of leg pain who were asked to rate their pain on a scale from one to 100. These patients were also hooked up to IVs to receive pain meds. At the start, the average pain rating was 66. Without knowing it, all the patients were given the strong painkiller remifentanil. Unaware that they'd received a treatment, the patients noted their pain level went down to 55. Then, when they were informed that they received a painkiller, their pain rating dropped to 39. Doctors then continued to give patients the same painkiller dose, but some study subjects were told the medication was being withdrawn. Those individuals then reported that the pain level jumped to 64.

"It's another piece of evidence that we get what we expect in life,” said health researcher George Lewith. "It completely blows cold randomized clinical trials, which don't take into account expectation." The study was published in Science Translational Medicine.

Share this article:

More in News

Expert says providers often wrongly threatened by PEPPER reports

Instead of fearing further scrutiny by federal authorities, providers should embrace the opportunity to get feedback in the form of PEPPER reports, legal experts said Monday at the LeadingAge annual meeting in Nashville.

Healthcare reform already driving diverse, dynamic long-term care models, LeadingAge leaders say

Healthcare reform already driving diverse, dynamic long-term care ...

One way to gauge the effects is healthcare reform is by looking at ongoing changes to the continuing care retirement community model, LeadingAge officials said Monday at the association's annual ...

Federal court: Nursing home can be sued for firing hairdresser who can ...

Is the ability to transport residents in their wheelchairs an essential function of a nursing home hairdresser? A federal appeals court says it's a valid question and is allowing a hairdresser to sue a facility that fired her.