Influence of placebo effects on quality of life and wound healing in patients with chronic venous leg ulcers

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Finja Jockenhöfer 1, Christopher Knust 1, Sven Benson 2, Manfred Schedlowski 2 3, Joachim Dissemond

Main idea: Our study is the first to show that – merely by raising patients’ expectations for a novel treatment – placebo effects can significantly improve quality of life in patients with chronic venous leg ulcers. In the future, our findings should be integrated into the development of treatment concepts for patients with chronic wounds and should be investigated in larger cohorts.

Abstract

Introduction: Placebo effects are used in the treatment of various medical conditions. To date, there is little scientific data in this regard as it relates to skin diseases in general and hardly any data with respect to wound healing in particular.

Material and methods: In a prospective randomized controlled trial, patients with chronic venous leg ulcers were observed for a period of 14 weeks. The objective was to investigate whether raising patients’ expectations with regard to a novel wound treatment might have an effect on wound healing processes as well as wound-related quality of life, anxiety, depression and pain.

Results: Overall, 20 patients were included in the trial. They were stratified based on gender and randomized to either the intervention (IG) or the control group (CG). In both groups, the wound area decreased significantly over the course of the observation period. Unlike patients in the CG, those in the IG experienced significant improvement in wound-related quality of life (wound-QoL) in terms of both the overall score and the various subscales. Neither group showed significant changes with respect to pain, anxiety and depression.

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