Words Wisely Chosen: Avoiding the Unintended Nocebo Effect

Author: Kathryn A. Schopmeyer

Traditional medical and rehabilitation training programs teach clinicians to frame an explanation of body pain in terms of anatomy and biomechanics. As intuitive as this may be, what we say is often not what patients hear. Research has demonstrated that use of common terms such as “degeneration,” “wear and tear,” or even “chronic” is associated with worse prognosis in the long term. This course will provide a research review of the nocebo effect of language, and offer alternative, descriptive terms and phrases for clinicians to use during brief or extended interactions. When patients have a greater sense of hope and control over their pain conditions, outcomes improve. This course is designed for any professional who educates patients about pain, directly treats pain conditions, or collaborates with other disciplines in multimodal pain care. (Recorded at PAINWeek 2017)

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