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Prestigious Vici grant of 1.5 million euro for Andrea Evers for the power of expectations

Vici grant for Andrea Evers for the power of expectations

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has granted Andrea Evers a Vici grant for her research proposal about the role of nocebo effects for insufficiently explained somatic symptoms, such as chronic pain, itch or fatigue. In her research, she will focus on innovative psychological and neurobiological pathways to unravel possible causal mechanisms in these symptoms and to develop innovative treatment options for patients with insufficiently explained symptoms.

Innovative research

Insufficiently explained somatic symptoms, such as chronic pain, itch or fatigue, have a high prevalence  and cause substantial burden and costs for both the patients and the society. A substantial number of these patients develop chronic complaints. In the Vici grant, Andrea Evers will focus on nocebo effects as possible mechanisms that contribute to these insufficiently explained symptoms.  Nocebo effects, the counterpart of the better known placebo effect, are negative outcomes expectancies that result in negative outcomes,  such as sensitization of physical symptoms. This studies are the first that combine the area of nocebo effects and insufficiently explained somatic symptoms.

Psychological and neurobiological mechanisms



It is well-known that positive and negative expectancies (such as placebo and nocebo effects) can explain about 25-50% of various health outcomes, including somatic symptoms. Psychological and neurobiological pathways of nocebo effects can therefore contribute to the cause and deterioration of insufficiently explained symptoms and might also be used to develop innovative treatment options.  To study the onset, course and recovery of nocebo effects, innovative psychological and neurobiological research methods will be used:

1. Laboratory and clinical studies, to unravel the psychological and neurobiological nocebo mechanisms, using innovative combinations of psychological and pharmacological methods in patients and healthy participants.

2. Prospective studies, to disentangle whether psychological and neurobiological nocebo mechanisms are a predictor for the course of future complaints in patients with recently diagnosed insufficiently explained symptoms.

3. Clinical treatment studies, to study innovative combinations of psychological and pharmacological methods as possible way to recovery of the insufficiently explained somatic symptoms.

These studies are part of the research line of Andrea Evers on the role of placebo and nocebo effects. In the past she already received an ERC Consolidator Grant and a Vidi grant from NWO for her research on placebo and nocebo effects.

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