Chronic back pain is the second most common cause of incapacity to work in Germany. © iStock.com/Wavebreakmedia

Chronic back pain is the second most common cause of incapacity to work in Germany. © iStock.com/Wavebreakmedia

Will that help me too? Positive treatment expectations through observation in patients with back pain

Positive expectations of a treatment can influence the sensation of pain and the efficacy of medication. But how can we selectively control patient expectations? Early studies indicate that simply observing successfully treated patients has a positive effect on one's own treatment expectations and changes the sensation of pain. This project will investigate this in patients with chronic back pain, with the long-term objective of improving treatment outcomes and reducing the use of medication.

Optimisation of treatment expectations in patients with chronic back pain through observation of others

This project will systematically vary patient expectations of treatment by showing them a positive or neutral treatment outcome in other patients. The effect of this expectation modulation on treatment outcome will be studied using analgesics or open-label placebos. In order to obtain both clinical and mechanistic data, the two factors – expectation and treatment – will be fully crossed. This will enable us to investigate the potential interaction effects of expectation and pharmacological analgesia.

Recommended reading:

Schmitz J, Müller M, Stork J, Eichler I, Zöllner C, Flor H, Klinger R (2019) Positive Treatment Expectancies Reduce Clinical Pain and Perceived Limitations in Movement Ability Despite Increased Experimental Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial on Sham Opioid Infusion in Patients with Chronic Back Pain. Psychother Psychosom 88(4):203-214. PubMed

Klinger R, Matter N, Kothe R, Dahme B, Hofmann U, Krug F (2010) Unconditioned and Conditioned Muscular Responses in Patients with Chronic Back Pain and Chronic Tension-Type Headaches and in Healthy Controls. Pain 150 66-74. PubMed

Christiansen S, Oettingen G, Dahme B, Klinger R (2010) A short goal-pursuit intervention to improve physical capacity: A randomized clinical trial in chronic back pain patients. Pain 149 (3), 444-452. PubMed

In close cooperation with these projects

A02

A02

A03

A03

A04

A04

A08

A08

Do positive expectations improve the effect of antidepressants?

Prof. Dr. Tilo Kircher
PD Dr. Irina Falkenberg

A11

A11

A12

A12
Olpimi

Can migraine symptoms be relieved by patients knowingly taking tablets without an active ingredient?

Prof. Dr. Ulrike Bingel
Dr. Julian Kleine-Borgmann
Dr. Katharina Schmidt

Project Lead

PD Dr. Regine Klinger

PD Dr. Regine Klinger
Psychologist

Team

Dr. Till Friedheim
Clinician Scientist, Specialist in Anaesthesiology

Julia Stuhlreyer
Psychologist, Study Coordinator

Marie Schwartz
Psychologist