Research press release


Nature Human Behaviour

Psychology: Doctors’ beliefs influence patients’ pain


今回、Luke Changの研究チームは3つの実験を行って、医療従事者の役を与えられた被験者の信念が、患者役の被験者の疼痛応答にどのように影響するかについて調べた。実験では、194人の参加者が「医師」または「患者」の役に振り分けられ、個々の医師役に患者役の腕にクリームを塗る。医師役の被験者には、2つのクリームのうち痛みの軽減に有効なのは一方のみであり、もう一方のクリームはプラセボだと信じさせた(実際には両方のクリームともプラセボである)。実験の結果、医師役の被験者が、自分が有効だと信じているクリームを患者役の被験者に塗った場合、患者が訴える痛みのレベルは低く、表情に表れる痛みの反応も弱く、皮膚のarousal responseも有意に異なっていた。また、研究チームは、医師役の顔の表情が、患者に塗るクリームによって異なることを見いだした。これは、今回認められた効果の機構である可能性を示唆している。


If healthcare providers believe in a treatment’s effectiveness, and reflect this belief in their facial expressions, their patients may experience less pain, suggests a paper published Nature Human Behaviour. This finding may influence how providers are trained to interact with patients.

Luke Chang and colleagues conducted three experiments to understand how the beliefs of hypothetical providers may affect the pain response of experimental participants acting as patients. The authors assigned 194 participants to the role of ‘doctor’ or ‘patient’, and gave each doctor two creams to administer to patients. The doctors were led to believe that one of the creams was effective in reducing pain, and that the other was a placebo. In fact, both were placebos. The authors found that when doctors administered the cream they believed to be effective, patients reported lower pain levels, expressed less pain facially, and had a significantly different skin arousal response. The authors observed that the doctors’ facial expressions were also different depending on the cream they were applying, which suggests a possible mechanism for this effect.

This finding highlights the potential importance of bedside manner in impacting patients’ treatment outcomes. The authors recommend that future research in this area investigate other contextual cues that may amplify the results reported in this study.

doi: 10.1038/s41562-019-0749-5


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