Stefanie Meeuwis is a senior PhD student at the Leiden University at the Department of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Institute of Psychology, Unit of Health, Medical and Neuropsychology. Her research focuses on whether placebo and nocebo effects can be induced for psychosomatic symptoms such as itch. Stefanie induces placebo and nocebo effects through various methods, for example by providing positive or negative information about a certain treatment in order to change the expectations towards the outcome, or by associative learning mechanisms. She furthermore tests whether placebo and nocebo effects are still effective when participants are made aware that it is all about the placebo and the effect of expectations. Investigating whether and how placebo and nocebo effects can be induced can potentially influence the way in which clinicians can communicate about treatments with patients so that treatment efficacy will be maximized and adverse effects (e.g., medication side effects) will be minimized. Moreover, it could lead towards new clinical possibilities aimed at, for example, medication reduction by using associative learning mechanisms or maximizing treatment outcomes through the use of (open-label) placebo.
Stefanie her passion for her research topic already started in her Bachelor’s, when she learned for the first time in more detail about the placebo effect and how this can affect treatments. She furthermore really enjoys the social aspect of science, such as the collaborations with other fields and interesting discussions with other experts. Even though she has no experience in public outreach, Stefanie now wishes to reach out to the general public and learn how to get people interested in and enthusiastic about her work.
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