The review by Astin and coworkers (1) of randomized trials of “distant healing” identified five investigations of intercessory prayer. The authors decided that two of these studies (2, 3) showed significant treatment effects and calculated an average effect size of 0.25 (P=0.009) based on four trials. However, the two investigations that the authors characterized as showing positive outcomes actually demonstrated that intercessory prayer has no measurable benefits.

The two studies were conducted in large samples of cardiac patients randomly assigned to prayer and no-prayer groups at hospitals in San Francisco, California, and Kansas City, Missouri. Byrd (2) ...


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