Nocebo hyperalgesia and other expectancy-related factors in daily fibromyalgia pain: Combining experimental and electronic diary methods

Merve Karacaoglu*, Kaya J. Peerdeman, Julian D. Karch, Henriët van Middendorp, Andrea W.M. Evers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Objective: Expectancies are known to shape pain experiences, but it remains unclear how different types of expectancies contribute to daily pain fluctuations in fibromyalgia. This combined experimental and diary study aims to provide insights into how experimentally-derived nocebo hyperalgesia and other, diary-derived, expectancy-related factors are associated with each other and with daily pain in fibromyalgia. Methods: Forty-one female patients with fibromyalgia first participated in a lab procedure measuring nocebo hyperalgesia magnitude, then filled out an electronic diary 3 times a day over 3 weeks regarding the expectancy-related factors of pain expectancy, anxiety, optimism, and pain-catastrophizing thoughts, and current pain intensity. Results: Our results indicate that experimentally-induced nocebo hyperalgesia was not significantly related to diary-assessed expectancy-related factors and did not predict daily fibromyalgia pain. Higher levels of the self-reported expectancy-related factors pain expectancy and pain catastrophizing, but not anxiety and optimism, predicted moment-to-moment pain increases in fibromyalgia, after controlling for current pain, moment-of-day and all other expectancy-related factors. Conclusion: Our exploratory research findings indicate that self-reported expectancy-related factors, particularly pain expectancy and pain catastrophizing, are potentially more relevant for predicting daily pain experience than experimentally-induced nocebo hyperalgesia. Further translation of nocebo hyperalgesia is needed from experimental to Ecological Momentary Assessment research. Our findings imply that targeting the decrease in pain expectancy and catastrophizing thoughts e.g., via Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, have potential for improving daily pain levels in fibromyalgia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111676
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Diary study
  • Expectancy
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Nocebo hyperalgesia
  • Pain


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