Somatosensory Amplification Is a Predictor of Self-Reported Side Effects in the Treatment of Primary Hypertension: a Pilot Study

Bettina K. Doering, Judit Szécsi, G. Bárdos, Ferenc Köteles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Side effects consist of drug-specific and non-specific symptoms. Both components are based on bodily sensations that a person perceives after taking a drug and subsequently attributes to the drug. We suggest that somatosensory amplification (SSA) may explain a proportion of inter-individual differences in reports of side effects that cannot be accounted for by drug-specific safety profiles. This hypothesis was investigated in hypertensive patients starting a new pharmacotherapy. Method: This longitudinal study included 50 patients (66 % women, aged 55 ± 14 years) with a diagnosis of primary hypertension. Patients completed the Somatosensory Amplification Scale (SSAS), started to take their new medication, and recorded side effects on a daily basis for 4 weeks. Results: After controlling for age, gender, number of pills taken, and previous personal and family experiences with medication side effects in the regression analyses, SSAS scores remained a significant predictor of reported side effects over the entire study period (weeks 1 and 2: β = .621, p <.001; weeks 3 and 4: β = .493, p = .003). In a subsample comprising patients taking the four most commonly used drug regimes, SSAS was a significant predictor of side effects, even when controlling for type of medication. Conclusion: In this sample of patients undergoing anti-hypertensive pharmacotherapy, higher SSA scores predicted increased reports of medication side effects. To account for this tendency and to improve compliance with medication regimes, this group may require special education about the nocebo phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Medicine
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 15 2016


  • Informed consent
  • Nocebo
  • Side effects
  • Somatosensory amplification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology

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