Drug, doctor's verbal attitude and clinic setting in the symptomatic response to pharmacotherapy

E. H. Uhlenhuth, Karl Rickels, Seymour Fisher, Lee C. Park, Ronald S. Lipman, John Mock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

138 psychoneurotic outpatients manifesting anxiety were treated for 6 weeks with medication and brief, supportive interviews every 2 weeks with a psychiatric resident. The patients were divided among 12 different treatment conditions composed of 1. meprobamate 1,600 mg q.i.d. versus an identical placebo in a double-blind arrangement, 2. a doctor expressing an enthusiastic attitude toward the medication versus a doctor expressing a skeptical attitude toward the medication and 3. three different psychiatric outpatient clinics. The patient's symptomatic condition was assessed at each visit by means of five ratings made by the patient before each interview and three ratings made by his doctor afterward. These ratings included an overall judgment of change, a checklist of 64 common symptoms, a score based on the patient's presenting complaints and adjective checklists for registering anxiety and depression. The results at one clinic showed the expected interaction between medication and doctor's expressed attitude: with the enthusiastic doctors, patients taking meprobamate improved more than patients taking placebo; whereas with the skeptical doctors, patients taking placebo tended to improve more than patients taking meprobamate. At the other two clinics, however, this interaction was absent or possibly reversed, with meprobamate tending to be superior to placebo with skeptical doctors. Some striking clinic differences among the characteristics of patients were found, particularly in social class status and the commonly associated styles of complaint and goals and expectations regarding treatment. The clinic showing the anticipated interaction between medication and doctor's verbal attitude had patients with the lowest social class standing. The doctors at this clinic also came from backgrounds of lower social class than the doctors at the other two clinics. These differences suggest that the participants at this clinic may have assigned meanings to the enthusiastic and the skeptical attitudes contrasting with the meanings assigned at the other two clinics. The possible relevenace of these differences to the results is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)392-418
Number of pages27
JournalPsychopharmacologia
Volume9
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1966

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology

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