Check out this randomized control study that really showed the power of information given by a doctor can have very real negative effects on the patient. This is called the nocebo effect.
In this study, 44 low back pain (LBP) patients were randomized to either Group A- who had a factual explanation of their MRI report or Group B, who were reassured that the MRI findings showed normal changes. The outcomes were significant.
The authors state: “After 6 weeks of treatment, Group A had a more negative perception of their spinal condition, increased catastrophization, decreased pain improvement, and poorer functional status (p = significant for all).”
As you can see, the very same MRI findings caused very different outcomes depending on how they were interpreted. It is so important to understand how messages alone and the subsequent beliefs and emotions it creates can either hurt or help the patient.