Self Healing Research: Good Sam I Am


Distant Healing Synopsis and Distant Healing Research

b. Positive Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer in a Coronary Care Unit Population. Byrd, R.C. Southern Medical Journal. 81: 826-829, 1988.


This study was conducted as an explicit test of the efficacy of Judeo-Christian prayer and distant healing. All healers used in this study were "born again Christians" who were characterized as having "an active Christian life as manifested by daily devotional prayer and active Christian fellowship with a local church. Unlike the Sicher et al. AIDS study,  "healers" used in this study had no requirements for healing credentials aside from their religious beliefs as noted above.

In this 10 month study, 393 patients admitted to a hospital cardiac care unit were randomly separated into experimental ("intercessory prayer" or "IP") or control (no IP) groups. Participants were all aware that they were in the study, though all parties involved, including attending physicians, were blind as to the experimental condition (IP or not-IP) that the patient was assigned. An uncontrolled variable in this study was whether participants in the control condition were still prayed over by loved ones. Since it would have been unethical to control for this, any differences between conditions that might have been found would probably have been smaller than they might have been if this factor could have been controlled.

Another major difference between this study and the Sicher et al. AIDS study is that the former assigned only one healer to an experimental participant. In this study, "each patient was assigned to three to seven intercessors." No analysis was given in this paper about whether the number of healers interacted in any way with patient outcome.

The study found that the patients in the IP group "had less congestive heart failure, required less diuretic and antibiotic therapy, had fewer episodes of pneumonia, had fewer cardiac arrests, and were less frequently intubated and ventilated" than the control patients. Statistically, however, since there were a large number of analyses conducted on the data, and only 6 of them were statistically significant, the author concluded that these results "could not be considered statistically significant." He tried to overcome this statistical problem by creating a unified measure of outcome which did indeed show that the prayer-over patients showed significantly better health outcomes than the control patients.



A View Of Healing & Health

1. Harnessing the Placebo's Compassion   2. Compassion Theory of Healing & Health    3. Compassion Experiments

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