Good Only one of the following: left heart catheterization; mild
unstable angina pectoris of less than 6 hours' duration; self-limiting ventricular
tachycardia within the first 72 hours of myocardial infarction; supraventricular
tachyarrythmia; uncomplicated third-degree heart block requiring temporary pacemaker; mild
congestive heart failure without pulmonary edema; no complications at all.
multiple variables measured, congestive heart
failure, cardiopulmonary arrest, pneumonia, diuretics, antibiotics, and
intubation/ventilation were seen less frequently in the prayer group.
Multivariate analysis of the data using the variables listed in Table 2 revealed a
significant difference (P < .0001) between the two groups based on
events that occurred after entry into the study. Fewer patients in the prayer group
required ventilatory support, antibiotics, or diuretics.
try vs 73% in the control
group. An intermediate
In reviewing the social and scientific literature on the efficacy of prayer to the Judeo-Christian God there seems to be no end to articles discussing it but very few articles that actually test for the effects of prayer. The Bible records examples of the effectiveness of prayer in healing in the book of Genesis 20:17,18; Numbers 12:13; and Acts 28:8.
Roland10 believed that a work on the effectiveness of prayer by Galton 2 in 1872 represents one of the first applications of statistics to science and one of the first objective studies of prayer. Galton,3 on reporting the effects of prayer in the clergy, found no salutary effects. He cited previous work by Guy from which he concluded that prayer for sovereigns in England did not make them live longer than other prominent people of the time.2 Though perhaps a unique approach for his time, the study suffered greatly in design, as retrospective studies are prone to do. Galton also believed that prayer seemed to be a perfectly reasonable subject for research. But the literature remained silent after this, probably as a result of the furor his comments created at the time.
In 1965 a double-blind clinical trial of the effect of prayer on rheumatic patients was reported by Joyce and Welldon,4 who studied 19 matched pairs of patients over 18 months, with a crossover between the control group and the prayer group at six months. During the first half of the study, the prayer group did better but in the second half the control group did better. Their results showed no significant differences as a result of prayer Subsequently, in 1969 Cohipp5 reported the result of a triple-blind study of the efficacy of prayer on 18 leukemic children. In a randomized trial, his data suggested that prayer had a beneficial effect but it did not reach significance because the number of patients was small and the initial randomization did not produce matching groups, thus nullifying any suggested benefit for the prayer group.
I approached the study of the efficacy of prayer in the following manner suggested by Galton2:
There are two lines of research, by either of which we may pursue this inquiry. The one that promises the most trust-worthy results is to examine large classes of cases, and to be guided by broad averages; the other, which I will not employ in these pages, is to deal with isolated instances.
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Last updated March 31, 2008