19 researchers and clinicians from Essen, Marburg and Hamburg are working in close cooperation on 16 projects. © SFB Treatment Expectation

19 researchers and clinicians from Essen, Marburg and Hamburg are working in close cooperation on 16 projects. © SFB Treatment Expectation

Research network

The transregional DFG (German Research Foundation) collaborative research centre (CRC/Transregio 289) entitled "Treatment Expectation" is an interdisciplinary team investigating the impact of patient expectation on the efficacy of medical treatments.

Video: Patient perspectives

No placebo effect without expectation

Researchers have known for a long time that expectations can influence physical symptoms, the course of an illness and the efficacy of treatments. Patients experience what are known as placebo effects. It has been shown that a capsule with no active ingredient or specific information from the doctor can have powerful effects. Patient expectation of treatment is the key to these effects.

This has great therapeutic potential. Where do expectations come from and how can we influence them? Can treatment providers use this knowledge to improve the efficacy and tolerability of medications and treatments? What happens in the brain, and what are the psychological and neurobiological mechanisms underlying the effect?

Scientific basis for personalised medicine

The "Treatment Expectation" research network provides a unique opportunity for an interdisciplinary team led by the University of Duisberg-Essen to examine these questions from different perspectives in clinical and experimental studies. The first stage of its research focuses on two common conditions: chronic pain and depression. Autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases will be studied later.

Its research is highly interdisciplinary and translational in nature. The overall objective is to apply the knowledge gained from basic research to the systematic use of expectation effects in everyday clinical practice for targeted optimisation of treatment efficacy and tolerability.

What is a collaborative research centre?

Collaborative research centres are long-term, university-based research institutions in which scientists work together in an interdisciplinary research programme for up to 12 years.

They enable innovative, ambitious, complex and long-term research projects to be undertaken through the coordination and concentration of individuals and resources at the universities that apply, thereby facilitating institutional specialisation and structural development. Cooperation with non-university research institutions is actively encouraged. Collaborative research centres consist of many different projects, which are led either by individuals or by a team of scientists.

Collaborative Research Centre CRC/TRR 289 has received DFG funding of around 12 million euros to cover – as is usual – the first four years of the project.