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Resuscitation. 2007 Jun;73(3):407-11. Epub 2007 Feb 7.

Consistency of near-death experience accounts over two decades: are reports embellished over time?

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Division of Perceptual Studies, Department of Psychiatry & Neurobehavioral Sciences, University of Virginia Health System, P.O. Box 800152, Charlottesville, VA 22908-0152, USA.



"Near-death experiences," commonly reported after clinical death and resuscitation, may require intervention and, if reliable, may elucidate altered brain functioning under extreme stress. It has been speculated that accounts of near-death experiences are exaggerated over the years. The objective of this study was to test the reliability over two decades of accounts of near-death experiences.


Seventy-two patients with near-death experience who had completed the NDE scale in the 1980s (63% of the original cohort still alive) completed the scale a second time, without reference to the original scale administration. The primary outcome was differences in NDE scale scores on the two administrations. The secondary outcome was the statistical association between differences in scores and years elapsed between the two administrations.


Mean scores did not change significantly on the total NDE scale, its 4 factors, or its 16 items. Correlation coefficients between scores on the two administrations were significant at P<0.001 for the total NDE scale, for its 4 factors, and for its 16 items. Correlation coefficients between score changes and time elapsed between the two administrations were not significant for the total NDE scale, for its 4 factors, or for its 16 items.


Contrary to expectation, accounts of near-death experiences, and particularly reports of their positive affect, were not embellished over a period of almost two decades. These data support the reliability of near-death experience accounts.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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