March 31, 2006

Medical Study on Prayer

Results of the long-awaited study on prayer have been released.

Taking almost 10 years, following some 1800 patients and costing more than $2.4 million, the study show that prayers offered by strangers had no effect on the recovery of people who were undergoing heart surgery.

The study said nothing about the power of personal prayer or about prayers for family members and friends.

Designed to cure problems with earlier studies that had conflicting results, the study may have created another.

Patients who knew they were being prayed for had a higher rate of post-operative complications like abnormal heart rhythms, perhaps because of the expectations the prayers created, the researchers suggested.

In a hurriedly convened news conference, the study's authors, led by Dr. Herbert Benson, a cardiologist and director of the Mind/Body Medical Institute near Boston, said that the findings were not the last word on the effects of so-called intercessory prayer. But the results, they said, raised questions about how and whether patients should be told that prayers were being offered for them.

Posted by Jill Fallon at March 31, 2006 03:56 PM | Permalink