From Bench to Bedside: Converting Placebo Research into Belief Activation

J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Aug;23(8):575-580. doi: 10.1089/acm.2016.0375. Epub 2017 Jul 18.


Research on the placebo effect contains important elements that can be harnessed to improve clinical care. This paper proposes a new term, "Belief Activation," to describe the deliberate use of placebo effect tools by both patients and clinicians to catalyze healing. Belief Activation includes, but is not limited to, maximizing patient and practitioner expectations, classical and social conditioning, spirituality and prayer/intention, therapeutic relationship, healing environments, and minimizing the nocebo effect. This paper demonstrates ways in which Belief Activation is a form of evidence-based medicine and seeks to translate knowledge from placebo research into medical practice.

Keywords: mind/body; nocebo; placebo; relationship-centered care; spirituality; therapeutic relationship.

MeSH terms

  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Humans
  • Mind-Body Therapies*
  • Placebo Effect*
  • Spirituality