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Psychother Psychosom. 2008;77(3):158-66. doi: 10.1159/000116609. Epub 2008 Feb 14.

Effectiveness of distant healing for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome: a randomised controlled partially blinded trial (EUHEALS).

Author information

1
Samueli Institute, European Office, School of Social Sciences, University of Northampton, Northampton, UK. harald.walach@northampton.ac.uk

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Distant healing, a form of spiritual healing, is widely used for many conditions but little is known about its effectiveness.

METHODS:

In order to evaluate distant healing in patients with a stable chronic condition, we randomised 409 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) from 14 private practices for environmental medicine in Germany and Austria in a two by two factorial design to immediate versus deferred (waiting for 6 months) distant healing. Half the patients were blinded and half knew their treatment allocation. Patients were treated for 6 months and allocated to groups of 3 healers from a pool of 462 healers in 21 European countries with different healing traditions. Change in Mental Health Component Summary (MHCS) score (SF-36) was the primary outcome and Physical Health Component Summary score (PHCS) the secondary outcome.

RESULTS:

This trial population had very low quality of life and symptom scores at entry. There were no differences over 6 months in post-treatment MHCS scores between the treated and untreated groups. There was a non-significant outcome (p = 0.11) for healing with PHCS (1.11; 95% CI -0.255 to 2.473 at 6 months) and a significant effect (p = 0.027) for blinding; patients who were unblinded became worse during the trial (-1.544; 95% CI -2.913 to -0.176). We found no relevant interaction for blinding among treated patients in MHCS and PHCS. Expectation of treatment and duration of CFS added significantly to the model.

CONCLUSIONS:

In patients with CFS, distant healing appears to have no statistically significant effect on mental and physical health but the expectation of improvement did improve outcome.

PMID:
18277062
DOI:
10.1159/000116609
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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