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A patient's belief that a drug will not work can become a self fulfilling prophecy, according to researchers. They showed the benefits of painkillers could be boosted or completely wiped out by manipulating expectations. The study, published in Science Translational Medicine, also identifies the regions of the brain which are affected.
Experts said this could have important consequences for patient care and for testing new drugs.
The study was conducted on healthy people who were subjected to pain for a short period of time. She said people with chronic conditions who had unsuccessfully tried many drugs for many years would have built up a much greater negative experience, which could impact on their future healthcare. Professor Tracey said: "Doctors need more time for consultation and to investigate the cognitive side of illness, the focus is on physiology not the mind, which can be a real roadblock to treatment."
George Lewith, professor of health research at the University of Southampton, said: "It's another piece of evidence that we get what we expect in life. "It completely blows cold randomised clinical trials, which don't take into account expectation."