Placebo Symposium.

Why Attend?

  • Improve your outcomes by ethical harnessing of the "placebo component" of routine care (even if a "placebo" is not given).
  • Learn about improving outcomes by augmenting the influence of the therapeutic context.
  • Better understand how to ethically enhance placebo effects and recommended medication, making us a significant step closer to safer and quality medication use
  • Special rates available for IASP members, Placebo SIG members, Australian University students and University of Sydney Pain Management postgraduate degree alumni.


  • An interactive, interdisciplinary event exploring the application of mind-brain and behavioural sciences to the bedside.
  • Includes a full working dinner with keynote lecture from Prof. Dan Moerman plus an exploration of the conference theme beyond the health setting, with presentation and unique blinded premium wine tasting (Primo Estate Winery).
  • Over 10 Internationally renowned clinical researchers
  • A certificate of completion is offered to symposium participants. CPD points/hours available (including RACGP and AHPRA).

Placebo effects are a component of each and every health care interaction (even without administration of a placebo). The outcome of any given treatment is the effects from the index treatment itself and the psychosocial (therapeutic) context in which it is given (placebo mechanisms). Equally importantly, negative elements on the therapeutic context have the ability to turn on discrete “nocebo” mechanisms which worsen outcomes. Understanding the mechanisms of these effects and the ability to harness and modulate them in both clinical trials and clinical practice may lead to improved clinical outcomes and quality use of current and future medicines.

Clinical implications are wide-reaching - particularly understanding how to make our current therapies more effective by enhancing the context and manner in which we give them. Understanding the 'negative' or nocebo component of treatments (that is, even very good treatments delivered in a suboptimal manner) will only better help us enhance our treatment outcomes. Taken together, this is an important way of better understanding the quality use of medicine, surgery and other health care interventions.

Who is this for?

The symposium is designed for doctors, psychologists, physiotherapists, nurses and other health professionals with an interest in understanding and applying knowledge of placebo mechanisms, and how these can be used to improve clinical outcomes for patients.

International Speakers

Daniel E. Moerman.

Prof Daniel E. Moerman
Prof. Emeritus in Anthropology, University of Michigan-Dearborn, USA

Internationally renown anthropologist and ethnobiologist, and one of the most authoritative thinkers on placebo effects. He is the author of Meaning, Medicine and the "Placebo Effect". Daniel is the William E. Stirton Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan — Dearborn, a reflection of his distinguished scholarship, teaching, and professional accomplishments.

Winfried Rief.

Prof. Winfried Rief
Professor of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Head of the Clinic for Psychological Interventions, Philipps University of Marburg, Germany.

With over 500 articles, 13K citations and 50K reads, Winfried is one of the world’s leading experts in placebo- and nocebo effects, the relevance of somatic symptoms, optimisation of clinical studies and interventions. He was also nominated for the expert committee of WHO/APA for the revision of the classification of mental disorders according to DSM-V and is Co-Chair of the WHO working group on pain diagnoses in ICD-11.

Paul Enck.

Prof. Paul Enck
Professor of Medical Psychology, Director of Research, Dept. of Psychosomatic Medicine & Psychotherapy, University Hospital Tübingen, Germany.

The focus of his research is psychophysiology with emphasis on psycho- and neurogastroenterology (neural regulation of gastrointestinal functions). Since 2002, Paul and his team have dedicated their research towards the placebo effect and the placebo response, underlying psycho- and neurobiological mechanisms, and their clinical consequences.

Luana Colloca.

A/Prof. Luana Colloca
University of Maryland, USA & Honorary Professor at The University of Sydney, School of Psychology.

Luana has an international reputation as a leading scientist for advancing knowledge of the neurobiological mechanisms of placebo and nocebo effects with an integrative approach including psychopharmacological, neurobiological and behavioral approaches. Her pioneering studies have made a major contribution to the scientific understanding of the psychoneurobiological bases of endogenous systems for pain modulation in humans.

Claudia Carvalho. A/Prof. Cláudia Carvalho
Clinical Psychology, Health Psychology, ISPA Instituto Universitário, Lisbon, Portugal.

Cláudia’s most recent research has focused on open-label placebo and its effect on chronic low back pain. This research has been featured in numerous magazine and news articles, including Nature, The New York Times and The Times. Her main interests include the placebo effect, suggestion and suggestibility, hypnosis, and the promotion of health behaviours.

Local Experts

Damien Finniss.

A/Prof Damien Finniss
Pain Management Research Institute, The University of Sydney & Royal North Shore Hospital, and Griffith University School of Rehabilitation Sciences.

Chairman of the Placebo SIG (International Association for the Study of Pain - IASP). Damien’s work focuses on the therapeutic context and how this can modulate pain and treatment outcomes.

Roland Sussex.

Prof. Roland Sussex
Emeritus Professor, Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation & School of Languages and Culture, The University of Queensland.

Roland’s research is located in the triangle between language, culture and society, and technology. He is co-chief investigator in the PainLang Research Group at the University of Queensland, which is investigating the use of language in the diagnosis, treatment and management of pain.

Kate Faasse.

Dr. Kate Fraasse
School of Psychology, University of New South Wales.

Kate’s work has been instrumental in understanding social modelling of both side effects and medication benefits, perceptions of medication branding and generic drugs, and how having a choice of treatments (compared to no choice) impacts health outcomes.

Stewart Dunn.

Prof. Stewart Dunn
Professor Psychological Medicine, Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney.

Stewart’s research and clinical interests are in psychological aspects of medical illness, doctor-patient and inter-professional communication, and human factors in medical error. His team has conducted research into the psychophysiological impact of breaking bad news on doctors, effective ways of communicating the news to patients and the long-term consequences of breaking bad news.

Claire Ashton-James.

Dr. Claire Ashton-James
Senior Lecturer in Pain Education, Pain Management Research Institute, The University of Sydney.

Claire brings her expertise in social psychology to bear in her research on patient-clinician trust, the formation of treatment expectancies, and communication strategies for managing treatment expectations.

Ben Colagiuri.

Dr. Ben Colagiuri
School of Psychology, The University of Sydney.

Ben’s research aims to understand how expectancies shape human behavior, with a specific interest in placebo and nocebo effects. His current research explores how the placebo effect can be used to improve clinical trial design and clinical practice, with the ultimate aim of enhancing patients’ health and wellbeing.

Michael Nicholas.

Prof. Michael Nicholas
Director, Pain Education & Pain Management Programs, Pain Management Research Institute, The University of Sydney & Royal North Shore Hospital.

Michael is a leading clinical-researcher on the psychological management of pain. Michael will focus on the possible risks of relying on placebo effects for all patients.

Gavin Patullo.

Dr. Gavin Pattullo
Director of the Acute Pain Services, Royal North Shore Hospital; Clinical Senior Lecturer, The University of Sydney.

Gavin will discuss novel concepts around placebo, expectations and the doctor-patient relationship and apply these to the problem of long-term opioid use.

Symposium Timetable


You can now view the Placebo Symposium timetable here. Please note: Curriculum and speakers subject to final confirmation.

Symposium Dates

Dates: Friday 17 & Saturday 18 November 2017

Please aim to arrive for registration by 9:30am. Presentations will commence promptly at 10:00am.

The last session on Saturday will conclude at 5pm.


Registration fees include morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea on each day and the keynote dinner on Friday evening. Prices are GST inclusive and are in Australian Dollars (AUD).

Registration Type  Cost (inc. GST)
Full Registration Rate $715.00
IASP Member Full Registration Rate1 $635.00
IASP and SIG Placebo Member Full Registration Rate2 $605.00
Current Australian University Student3 $440.00
Alumni of The University of Sydney Pain Management postgraduate degree program4 $440.00

1 Proof of IASP Membership will be required
2 Proof of IASP and SIG Placebo Membership will be required
3 Limited student places available. Proof of current Australian University enrolment will be required.
4 Limited student places available. University of Sydney student number will be required.


Novotel Sydney Manly Pacific Hotel
55 North Steyne
Manly NSW 2095

Map: http://www.novotelmanlypacific.com.au/directions-en.html

Credit for Continuing Professional Development

Certificate of completion for 15 hours CPD will be provided to symposium participants who register their attendance as CPD activity.

This symposium is an RACGP QI&CPD Accredited Activity (Category 2). There are 25 RACGP CPD points available to attending GPs.

RACGP QI&CPD Activity - 25 CPD Points logo.


Registrations are now closed.

  • The number of registrations is limited to 150 participants
  • Registrations are now closed.

Refund and Cancellation Policy

Cancellations on or before Friday 20 October 2017 receive a 75% refund of the registration fee (i.e. less 25% administrative fee). There will be no refunds after this date.


Novotel Manly Pacific Rooms

Novotel Sydney Manly Pacific Hotel, which is the venue of the Symposium, have rooms available. Unfortunately the discounted room allocation is now full.

For more information about this hotel or to book, please call Novotel Manly Pacific directly.

Toll-Free (Australia only): 1300 796 151
Phone: +61 2 9977 7666
Email: H5462@accor.com
Web: http://www.novotelmanlypacific.com.au/

Getting Here

Public Transport

Novotel Manly is 30 minutes from Sydney’s CBD by ferry or 18 minutes by fast ferry. From the ferry terminal, walk ahead through the Manly Corso (an open air mall) to the Manly Beach side and turn left onto North Steyne Rd. The Novotel will be two blocks along on the left hand side.

TripView Lite is a free app for iPhone and Android which provides easy access to Sydney's public transport timetable. [Read more]

More information about planning your trip by public transport is also available here: http://www.transportnsw.info/


The venue is located 15 kilometres by road from Sydney’s CBD with access from all major roads.

Novotel Manly has limited on-site parking. Please contact the hotel directly for more information.

Alternative parking is available at the unaffiliated council car park in Central Avenue. On street parking is metered or only for limited time periods.

Please allow plenty of time to find a park if you are driving.