Research Topic

The Nocebo Effect and its Consequences for Clinical Trials and Clinical Practice

About this Research Topic

The nocebo effect refers to the worsening of symptoms or adverse events that are related either to a placebo or an active treatment, caused either by environmental factors or interindividual variables related to the person receiving the treatment, but not to the pharmacological or physiological effects of the therapy. The nocebo effects may make treatment ineffective or harmful, and, therefore, it distorts the outcome in biomedical experiments, clinical trials, and every-day practice.

Understanding the neurobiological mechanisms and recognition of serious negative consequences of nocebo, such as a lack of adherence or discontinuation of a trial or a
therapy is important but is much less studied than the placebo effects. For example, in PubMed, there are over 300 more publications citing “placebo” or "placebo effects"; than "nocebo" or "nocebo effects".

The aim of this Research Topic, in line with the topical workshop during the IASP 2021 World Congress on Pain, is to raise awareness of the existence of nocebo effect in clinical practice and research and to stimulate discussion on how to minimize it in order to develop personalized and more effective treatment approaches. We would like to encourage the debate by preparing a research topic including original research studies, meta-analyses, and mini-reviews.


Keywords: biomedical experiments, randomized controlled trials, placebo control, nocebo effects, placebo effects


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The nocebo effect refers to the worsening of symptoms or adverse events that are related either to a placebo or an active treatment, caused either by environmental factors or interindividual variables related to the person receiving the treatment, but not to the pharmacological or physiological effects of the therapy. The nocebo effects may make treatment ineffective or harmful, and, therefore, it distorts the outcome in biomedical experiments, clinical trials, and every-day practice.

Understanding the neurobiological mechanisms and recognition of serious negative consequences of nocebo, such as a lack of adherence or discontinuation of a trial or a
therapy is important but is much less studied than the placebo effects. For example, in PubMed, there are over 300 more publications citing “placebo” or "placebo effects"; than "nocebo" or "nocebo effects".

The aim of this Research Topic, in line with the topical workshop during the IASP 2021 World Congress on Pain, is to raise awareness of the existence of nocebo effect in clinical practice and research and to stimulate discussion on how to minimize it in order to develop personalized and more effective treatment approaches. We would like to encourage the debate by preparing a research topic including original research studies, meta-analyses, and mini-reviews.


Keywords: biomedical experiments, randomized controlled trials, placebo control, nocebo effects, placebo effects


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

30 June 2021 Abstract
30 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

30 June 2021 Abstract
30 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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