This project proposes to design, plan and organize an interdisciplinary, international scientific conference designed to advance the science of placebo research and mind-body mechanisms, and apply this knowledge to alcohol use and pain disorders. Pain and alcohol are inter-related conditions with large and individually variable placebo effects on disease progression and response to treatments. Although an estimation of placebo effects in clinical practice is difficult to establish, the effect size of placebo effects in laboratory settings ranges from small to large based on numerous factors. In double blind clinical trials for pain and alcohol use disorders, the responses to placebos can be as large as the active treatments leading to a stagnant era for the development of new drugs because they do not exceed placebos. For example, placebo responses in alcohol use disorder treatment trials ranges from 20.8% to 94%. We will have an in-depth discussion during the conference that will improve our knowledge of placebo responsiveness, design of clinical trials and integration of nonpharmacological approaches as a relevant and unique opportunity to improve patients? outcomes, quality of life and functioning. The conference deliverables will assist in expanding the empirical, conceptual and ethical understanding of the placebo effect among academic researchers, health care professionals, as well as external stakeholders. We will promote training and educational opportunities for junior and senior researchers who will be invited to participate and present their work either as a podium or poster presentation. We will pay particular attention to ensuring diversity by inviting minorities and women as speakers. Therefore, we will have three main AIMs for the proposed 2021 conference at UMB are: 1. Provide a collaborative platform to present and share innovative research findings and theoretical ideas on placebo research to a national and an international audience of researchers. 2. Promote training and education of trainees, academic junior researchers, healthcare professionals, agencies, and the public. 3. Advocate for the participation of minorities and women while expanding the U.S. research in the global network of placebo research. The Interprofessional Continuing Education Committee and selected faculty from UMB will collaborate with the Society for Interdisciplinary Placebo Studies (SIPS) to design and produce this unique 2.5-day event. SIPS was created in 2014, with the mission of promoting interdisciplinary investigation of placebo and nocebo phenomena (https://sipsconference.com/). We anticipate attracting approximately 300 scientists worldwide including trainees, junior faculty, and clinicians.
Responses to placebos can be as large as the active treatments in Phase II/III randomized clinical trials for pain and alcohol disorders leading to a stagnant era for the development of new drugs because they do not exceed placebos. This conference will shed light on mechanisms, concepts and ideas related to placebo and mind-body approaches with an evaluation of clinical implications leading to a much-needed integration of pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatments for alcohol use and pain disorders.