Monday, April 03, 2006

Power of Prayer? - apparently not.....

Herbert Benson, author of "The Relaxation Response" and researcher into medical effects of relaxation and prayer has just published, along his coworkers, some long awaited results: "Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP) in cardiac bypass patients: A multicenter randomized trial of uncertainty and certainty of receiving intercessory prayer." (American Heart Journal Volume 151, Issue 4 , April 2006, Pages 934-942). There have been several claims that prayer by strangers could ameliorate the condition of patients at another location (by unknown or supernatural forces...). Over ten studies have been carried out over the past six years with mixed results, but none approached the scientific rigor and number of patients involved in Benson's study.

Not only were there no effects of prayer, but the third of the subjects who were informed that they were being prayed for did slightly worse (performance anxiety?)

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