Price mat­ters, in pa­tients’ minds

The Globe and Mail (BC Edition) - - HEALTH & FITNESS -

When peo­ple be­lieve a medicine is ex­pen­sive, they may show a greater re­sponse to it.

Re­searchers told 49 vol­un­teers that they were test­ing two an­ti­itch creams – one costly and one cheap – that con­tained the same in­gre­di­ent known to re­duce itch, but that the in­gre­di­ent some­times in­creased sen­si­tiv­ity to heat.

Then they showed them the two creams, one in an ex­pen­sive-look­ing brand-name box, the other in a generic-look­ing con­tainer. They did not tell them that nei­ther con­tained any medicine.

They ran­domly as­signed them to try ei­ther the ex­pen­sive or cheap cream.

All par­tic­i­pants knew which cream they were us­ing. The study is in Sci­ence.

When ex­posed to heat, the vol­un­teers us­ing the ex­pen­sive cream felt con­sis­tently more pain than those us­ing the cheap one and the ef­fect in­creased over time.

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