Harnessing the placebo effect: the need for translational research

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2011 Jun 27;366(1572):1922-30. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0399.


Laboratory research recently has greatly enhanced the understanding of placebo and nocebo effects by identifying specific neuromodulators and brain areas associated with them. However, little progress has been made in translating this knowledge into improved patient care. Here, we discuss the limitations in our knowledge about placebo (and nocebo) effects and the need for translational research with the aim of guiding physicians in maximizing placebo effects and minimizing nocebo effects in their routine clinical practice. We suggest some strategies for how, when and why interventions to promote beneficial placebo responses might be administered in the clinical setting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Placebo Effect*
  • Placebos
  • Research Design*
  • Translational Research, Biomedical / methods*


  • Placebos