A new medicine is available that may benefit your patient, and together you must consider its appropriateness – your patient needs to be well informed. How you discuss the medicine is pivotally important. It is central to whether your patient takes the medicine and how long they remain on it, and may influence treatment benefit and the severity of any adverse events. Reduced efficacy, symptom worsening and new side effects are all possible, too, simply as a result of your discussion!
Discussion between patient and prescriber should include an emphasis on the positive attributes of a medicine and reasons for its initiation rather than focusing only on the likelihood of adverse events – which need to be placed in context of treatment benefit.1 Accentuating the benefits optimises the powerful placebo effect, a major part of treatment success, and minimises the nocebo effect (adverse effects induced independently of active treatment).1,2
Prescribers are instrumental in framing a medicine positively or negatively, setting patient expectations. Optimising these expectations during a short consult can enhance and sustain benefits.3 Conversely, highlighting negative information may lead to increased experience, and reporting, of adverse events, and to poor adherence.1