Placebo research network

Exploring how the placebo effect could influence health outcomes

Find out how we're using multidisciplinary approaches to advance understanding of the placebo effect.

The placebo effect is the fascinating phenomenon of patients’ beliefs and expectations leading to health improvements. For instance, soldiers in the Second World War who were given a saline injection experienced substantial pain relief after being told they were receiving morphine.

Since then, many laboratory and clinical studies have confirmed these remarkable effects. For example, fake surgery is just as effective for relieving knee pain as real surgery is. Yet we still don't know exactly how and why placebo effects occur. This project node aims to advance knowledge of this phenomenon by connecting experts from different disciplines to conduct pioneering research on the placebo effect.

Our current team contains a broad range of experts from an array of disciplines. These include cognitive psychology, clinical psychology, psychiatry, pharmacology, physiotherapy, neuroscience, statistics and research methods, and public health. 

We are also working with researchers from disciplines such as biology and philosophy to establish a network of truly multidisciplinary researchers to advance knowledge of the placebo effect.

Recent research on the placebo effect indicates that patient expectancies can play a substantial role in shaping their health outcomes, both positively (placebo) and negatively (nocebo). As such, understanding the placebo effect is critical for evaluating new and existing health interventions.

We aim to find ways for health professional to harness patient expectancies in order to improve health outcomes.

Internal collaborators

External collaborators

  • Associate Professor Luana Colloca, University of Maryland
  • Dr Kate Faasse, University of New South Wales
  • Associate Professor Maree Hackett, University of New South Wales

Project Node Leader

Associate Professor Ben Colagiuri
Associate Professor Ben Colagiuri
"The Charles Perkins Centre represents an excellent opportunity to advance knowledge its unique approach that brings together researchers in unexpected research collaborations."
Visit Ben Colagiuri's profile