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The influence of personality traits on the placebo/nocebo response


Kern, Alexandra; Kramm, Christoph; Witt, Claudia M; Barth, Jürgen (2020). The influence of personality traits on the placebo/nocebo response. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 128:109866.

Abstract

Objective: Some people might be more prone to placebo and nocebo responses than others depending on their personality traits. We aimed to provide a systematic review on the influence of personality traits on placebo and nocebo responses in controlled and uncontrolled studies.

Methods: We conducted a systematic literature search in the databases CINAHL, AMED, PsycINFO and EMBASE for relevant publications published between January 1997 and March 2018. For all included papers, we conducted an additional forward search.

Results: After screening 407 references, we identified 24 studies. The Big Five (i.e., neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness) and optimism were the most frequently investigated personality traits. Several studies found a positive association between optimism and the placebo response. Furthermore, we found that higher anxiety was associated with increased nocebo responses.

Conclusion: Evidence points to a possible association between optimism and the placebo response. Therefore, further emphasising the investigation of the influence of optimism on the placebo/nocebo response seems warranted. For clinical practice, the impact of anxiety on the nocebo response might be important to identify patients who might be more prone to experiencing side effects of medical treatments.

Abstract

Objective: Some people might be more prone to placebo and nocebo responses than others depending on their personality traits. We aimed to provide a systematic review on the influence of personality traits on placebo and nocebo responses in controlled and uncontrolled studies.

Methods: We conducted a systematic literature search in the databases CINAHL, AMED, PsycINFO and EMBASE for relevant publications published between January 1997 and March 2018. For all included papers, we conducted an additional forward search.

Results: After screening 407 references, we identified 24 studies. The Big Five (i.e., neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness) and optimism were the most frequently investigated personality traits. Several studies found a positive association between optimism and the placebo response. Furthermore, we found that higher anxiety was associated with increased nocebo responses.

Conclusion: Evidence points to a possible association between optimism and the placebo response. Therefore, further emphasising the investigation of the influence of optimism on the placebo/nocebo response seems warranted. For clinical practice, the impact of anxiety on the nocebo response might be important to identify patients who might be more prone to experiencing side effects of medical treatments.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Institute of Complementary Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Clinical Psychology
Health Sciences > Psychiatry and Mental Health
Uncontrolled Keywords:Nocebo response; Personality; Placebo response; Systematic review
Language:English
Date:2020
Deposited On:04 Feb 2021 08:19
Last Modified:08 Feb 2021 10:57
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0022-3999
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychores.2019.109866
PubMed ID:31760341
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID105319_159833
  • : Project TitleChanging patients expectations to increase treatment effects: a randomized controlled study in chronic low back pain patients receiving acupuncture

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