2 Jan. 2022

TOPIC: The Placebo and Nocebo Effects of Communication

We study how communication can heal and harm when patients are confronted with an illness. Most of our studies focus on serious illnesses such as advanced cancer. Communication lies at the heart of medicine, yet we do not always know which specific communication helps patients. Moreover, many complaints in medical care are about communication, but we lack an understanding of which specific communication can harm patients. We aim to understand the evidence-base of communication. To do so, we combine insights from communication & palliative care & placebo-and nocebo-effect research. Creating better insight into which communication can influence patient outcomes can help to improve care. Our ultimate ambition is to improve patients’ and their loved ones’ quality of life via optimal communication at the moment in time this is most important.

Background

Our research

We study how communication can heal and harm when patients are confronted with an illness; and focus mostly on serious illnesses. For example, we look at the effect of (various forms of) clinician-expressed empathy on patients’ anxiety and recall of provided information. But we also try to understand how we can best inform patients about aspects of their illness; such as their diagnoses, treatment options and potential side-effects. Next, we want to unravel which communication might harm patients. For example, we want to understand for whom and under which conditions open information provision is not the ideal.

For our projects we collaborate with clinicians, other (international) researchers, and of course patient representatives. We make use of various designs; ranging from experimental (lab-based) video-vignette studies, observational work, qualiative and survey designs, and randomized clinical trials in clinical practice.

Specific projects

There are several projects we are currently working on. An overview of some of the studies we are involved in:

  1. Dutch Cancer Society Young Investigator Grant (2018-2023)
    5-year personal fellowship on communication in advanced breast cancer care
    Collaboration with the Dutch Breast Cancer Society (BVN)
    Funder: Dutch Cancer Society
  2. Nocebo-effects of communication (2020-2022)
    Several projects on potential harmful communication in advanced cancer care. Funders: KNAW Early Career Partnership & Leids University Funds & L’Oreal-UNESCO FWIS/NIAS-KNAW
  3. Virtual communication training tool (2021-2022)
    Development of a virtual communication tool to improve the doctor-patient relationship based on our work on placebo and nocebo effects
    Collaborators: Andrea Evers (PI), Kaya Peerdeman, Stefanie Meeuwis Funder: European Research Council
  4. Placebo effects of communication on clinical (pain) perceptions (ongoing)
    Ongoing project on disentangling the placebo effects of communication on pain and other patient outcomes.
    Collaborators: Marc Godfried & Bram Thiel (OLVG)
    Funders: Stichting OLVG & Foundation for The Science of the Therapeutic Encounter

 

For more information, click here

Further reading

TOPIC: Placebo Effects
TOPIC: Placebo Effects

The effects of many treatments are determined, to a significant degree, by factors other than the medicine or treatment itself. For example, placebo e…

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COMMUNICATE HEAL-TH
COMMUNICATE HEAL-TH

A Virtual Reality training tool for optimizing expectancy effects in patient-provider interaction. We aim to create an innovative e-learning and virt…

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Pharmacological conditioning
Pharmacological conditioning

The major aim is to examine the potential of learning the body to produce a similar physiological (autonomic, neuroendocrine, or immune) and physical…

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