TO THE EDITOR:
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) ...
Astin JA, Harkness E, Ernst E. The efficacy of “distant healing”: a systematic review of randomized trials. Ann Intern Med. 2000;132:903-10. [PMID: 10836918] LinkGoogle Scholar
Byrd RC. Positive therapeutic effects of intercessory prayer in a coronary care unit population. South Med J. 1988;81:826-9. [PMID: 3393937] CrossrefMedlineGoogle Scholar
Harris WS, Gowda M, Kolb JW, Strychacz CP, Vacek JL, Jones PG, et al. A randomized, controlled trial of the effects of remote, intercessory prayer on outcomes in patients admitted to the coronary care unit. Arch Intern Med. 1999;159:2273-8. [PMID: 10547166] CrossrefMedlineGoogle Scholar
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