Placebo and Nocebo Effects and Why They Matter in Clinical Practice

Posted on:October 11, 2021
Last Updated: January 4, 2022
Time to read: 5 minutes

Until the 19th century, the doctor and their rituals were the primary ‘therapeutic agent’ in healthcare. However, the development of more effective treatments and increased use of technology in clinical practice has led some doctors to overlook the art of medicine and neglect their role as therapeutic agents.

What makes an effective doctor?

A decade ago, Verghese et al. observed that

By learning more about the therapeutic importance of the physician’s ‘style’ or ritual and studying outcomes, including patient satisfaction and adherence, we may be able to understand and amplify the benefits of our therapies. [Verghese et al., 2011]

We believe that considering placebo and nocebo effects in clinical practice is one strategy to improve patient satisfaction and health outcomes.

Hippocrates alluded to the placebo effect when he remarked that:

The patient, though conscious that his condition is perilous, may recover his health simply through his contentment with the goodness of the physician. [Hippocrates, Harvard University Press]



Hippocrates, Jones WHS, Withington ET, Smith WD, Potter P, Heraclitus, et al. Hippocrates. Cambridge, Massachusetts. Harvard University Press. 1923.