Treatment Choice and Placebo Expectation Effects



Placebo expectations can have a strong influence on physical and mental health outcomes. In prior research examining placebo expectation effects, participants have been assigned placebo treatments rather than being actively involved in selecting their treatment. In modern health care, however, individuals are often involved in health care decisions. We review relevant literature regarding choice and placebo expectation effects and conclude that exercising choice over a treatment should strengthen placebo effects. Data relevant to this hypothesis is reviewed. Next, we provide a framework for understanding the key variables involved in mediating and moderating the influence of treatment choice on placebo expectation effects. Finally, theoretical and practical issues revolving around treatment choice in the context of placebo effects are raised.