By Editorial Staff
Published April 1, 1989
SAN FRANCISCO, CA (EP) – Prayer for recovery may help the healing process, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. A scientific study found that hospitalized heart patients had fewer complications when others prayed for their recovery.
The 1982-83 study was conducted by Dr. Randolph Byrd at San Francisco General Medical Center’s coronary care unit. Byrd’s study randomly assigned half of 393 patients to a control group and half to an experimental group. Members of the experimental group were prayed for by groups of three to seven born-again Christians, while members of the control group were not on the prayer lists.
Patients were not told which group they were in, and had no contact with the praying Christians. Byrd himself did not know which patients were in which group until after he evaluated their progress.
The study found that while the two groups were equally sick when they entered the hospital, patients in the experimental group had fewer complications during their stay, and were less likely to need antibiotics, diuretics, or the insertion of tubes for feeding or breathing.
Past studies have examined the efficacy of prayer by people who know the patient; this is the first controlled study in which strangers prayed for strangers.
Byrd noted that family and friends were probably praying for most of the patients in the study, blurring the distinction between the two groups. He wrote that this “may have resulted in smaller differences between the two groups.”
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