Until recently, placebo treatments were believed to affect only subjective symptoms and thus were often disregarded in treatment options. However, recent evidence suggests that placebo effects are linked to biological changes that can be measured and quantified using experimental and real-world settings and accurate study designs, and the results can be used to design new pain management therapies, enhance clinical outcomes, and improve the quality and value of patient care.
The mission of the Placebo Beyond Opinions (PBO) Center is to promote innovative interdisciplinary investigation of the placebo phenomenon and to nurture a higher educational program on placebo research, involving a collaboration of internationally recognized leaders in the field. The PBO Center will promote rigorous research on the mechanisms of placebo effects and how these effects influence variability in symptoms, variability of responses to treatment, and variability in the perception of clinical encounters based on socio-economic factors, disparities, and diversity related to understudied populations. The PBO Center will strive to accomplish these goals by advancing research that can be translated into better clinical trials, educating future generations of clinicians to incorporate knowledge of placebo effects in their practice, and serving as a reference point for incorporating placebo research toward precision medicine.
Having generated the largest set of clinical, behavioral, and biological data on the placebo effect, the PBO Center promotes a multifaceted approach including research, education, and service to address its goals. One specific goal of the Center is to focus is to address socio-economic factors and disparities that affect clinical outcomes in understudied populations. Another aims to educate medical providers to incorporate the knowledge of placebo effects into targeted and more effective and patient care. The initiatives supported by the PBO Center will benefit a wide range of patient populations and will be of particular benefit to those interested in pain management. Those initiatives include the following:
- Creating an interdisciplinary entity that encourages global collaboration among centers and scholars to promote the dissemination of ideas significant to placebo science.
- Creating an elective course on Placebo Effects that will address the relevance of patient-provider communication to improve treatment outcomes.
- Establishing a virtual series of lectures given by local, national, and international experts.