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Home > Putting the 'art' into the 'art of medicine': the under-explored role of artifacts in placebo studies.

Bernstein, Michael H and Locher, Cosima and Kube, Tobias and Buergler, Sarah and Stewart-Ferrer, Sif and Blease, Charlotte (2020) Putting the 'art' into the 'art of medicine': the under-explored role of artifacts in placebo studies. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, p. 1354. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01354.

External website: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg...

Research in social psychology demonstrates that physical environmental factors - or "artifacts" such as provider clothing and office décor - can influence health outcomes. However, the role of artifacts in augmenting or diminishing health outcomes is under-explored in the burgeoning discipline of placebo studies. In this paper, we argue that a careful consideration of artifacts may carry significant potential in informing how placebo effects can be maximized, and nocebo effects minimized in clinical settings. We discuss the potential mechanisms, including classical conditioning, response expectancy, and mindsets, by which artifacts might enhance or diminish these effects. Next, we propose testable hypotheses to investigate how placebo and nocebo effects might be elicited by artifacts in care settings, and conclude by providing innovative research designs to advance this novel research agendum.


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