Nadine Neukirch

nadine neukirch


The placebo effect, sleep difficulty and side effects: a balanced placebo model

B. Arts (Psychology Hons), 2012

School of Psychology, University of New south Wales


Medical treatment is usually accompanied by a warning about potential side effects. While constituting an important part of informed consent, these warnings may themselves contribute to side effects via the placebo effect. I investigated this possibility among a sample of university students experiencing sleep difficulty. Under the guise of a trial of a new hypnotic, participants were allocated to receive a placebo treatment (lactose capsules) or no treatment for one week. In addition, participants were allocated to receive a warning about side effects (either increase or decrease in appetite, counterbalanced) or no warning. Placebo treatment led to significantly better sleep on almost all self-reported outcomes. Furthermore, placebo treated participants who received a warning about side effects were significantly more likely to report those side effects.

After honours I completed an ABA (Applied Behavioural Analysis) training and worked with children with autism in Sydney. This included in-home therapy as well as shadowing at pre-school. I then moved to Berlin, Germany and am worked as a social worker in an apartment for young adults with autism. I am currently completing a masters in clinical psychology at UTS


Neukirch, N. & Colagiuri, B. (in press). The placebo effect, sleep difficulty, and side effects: a balanced placebo model. Journal of Behavioral Medicine. [Online ahead of print] ↓pdf

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