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Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery. 2002 Feb;8(1):29-41.

Research methodology for studies of prayer and distant healing.

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Complementary Medical Research Institute, California Pacific Medical Center, San Francisco 94115, USA.


The double-blind randomized clinical trial is the gold standard for trials of prayer and distant healing. Adequate blinding and randomization procedures should be followed and documented. The intervention must be well defined (include frequency, amount of time and training and/or experience level of healers). Subjects should have risks and benefits of study participation explained to them and sign informed consent before enrollment. Populations should be homogeneous. Consider stratification for smaller samples. Baseline information, including psychological status, beliefs about prayer and healing and other sources of prayer and healing, should be collected from subjects in clinical trials. This should be examined as part of the final data analysis for contribution to outcomes. Objectively measurable outcomes with adequate variability should be chosen. Subject study participation activities such as clinical interviews, traveling to special sites. journaling or meditation should be minimized to avoid washing out a small effect. In clinical trials subjects should be asked if they believed they were in the treatment group and this information should be entered as a co-variate for data analysis. Healers/prayers should be treated in a collegial and respectful way. Their healing efforts (time. location, method) should be documented in a log and they should be periodically contacted and encouraged by experimenters if the study' is taking place over an extended period of time. Observational and outcomes research can add an important dimension to healing research. Qualitative studies may also make an important contribution and help guide development of future controlled trials.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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