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A doctor’s reassurance speeds healing from an allergic reaction, find Stanford psychologists

Stanford psychologists find that being reassured by a medical professional can aid in the healing process. (Image credit: Getty Images)

Sep 4 2018

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Faculty, In the News, Students

When doctors offer a few words of reassurance, patients suffering an allergic reaction begin to feel better more quickly. The finding by Stanford psychologists suggests that the placebo effect applies to words as well as to pills.


By Melissa De Witte

To feel better faster, a dose of reassurance might be just what the doctor ordered.

According to a new study, when a health care provider offers a few encouraging words about their patient’s recovery time from an allergic reaction, symptoms are significantly reduced. The researchers, led by Alia Crum, assistant professor of psychology at Stanford University’s School of Humanities and Sciences, published the findings recently in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

“For many conditions, the simple act of being reassured by a medical professional can aid in the healing process, and we needn’t always rely on medication and procedures to make us feel better,” said Crum, whose research explores how patient mindsets can affect health outcomes and healing. “My hope is that findings like this one inspire additional research on the physiological mechanisms of assurance as well as promote training and compensation for physicians to more effectively leverage psychological forces in their practice.”