Medical Definition of Nocebo

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reviewed on 12/21/2018

Nocebo: A negative placebo effect as, for example, when patients taking medications experience adverse side effects unrelated to the specific pharmacological action of the drug. The nocebo effect is associated with the person's prior expectations of adverse effects from treatment as well as with conditioning in which the person learns from prior experiences to associate a medication with certain somatic symptoms.

Nocebo comes from the Latin noceo, to harm and means "I shall harm" whereas placebo means "I shall please."

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Reviewed on 12/21/2018