The Power of Prayer as Medical Therapy
An interesting study regarding how powerful prayer may be was recently published in which some of the patients undergoing percutaneous coronary artery treatment were prayed for by “established congregations of various religions” off-site so that neither the physician nor the patient knew that they were the objects of the prayer. Any subsequent adverse reactions and death were determined and compared to other patients who had only standard care or those who had direct (unhidden) music, imagery and touch therapy alone or along with the hidden prayer.
Here is a summary of a study as written in the Lancet July 16, 2005 (pages 211-217) by Mitchell W Krucoff et al titled
“Music, imagery, touch, and prayer as adjuncts to interventional cardiac care: the Monitoring and Actualisation of Noetic Trainings (MANTRA) II randomised study”
Data from a pilot study suggested that noetic therapies—healing practices that are not mediated by tangible elements—can reduce preprocedural distress and might affect outcomes in patients undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention. We undertook a multicentre, prospective trial of two such practices: intercessory prayer and music, imagery, and touch (MIT) therapy.
748 patients undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention or elective catheterisation in nine USA centres were assigned in a 2×2 factorial randomisation either off-site prayer by established congregations of various religions or no off-site prayer (double-blinded) and MIT therapy or none (unmasked). The primary endpoint was combined in-hospital major adverse cardiovascular events and 6-month readmission or death. Prespecified secondary endpoints were 6-month major adverse cardiovascular events, 6 month death or readmission, and 6-month mortality.
371 patients were assigned prayer and 377 no prayer; 374 were assigned MIT therapy and 374 no MIT therapy. The factorial distribution was: standard care only, 192; prayer only, 182; MIT therapy only, 185; and both prayer and MIT therapy, 189. No significant difference was found for the primary composite endpoint in any treatment comparison. Mortality at 6 months was lower with MIT therapy than with no MIT therapy (hazard ratio 0·35 (95% CI 0·15–0·82, p=0·016).
Neither masked prayer nor MIT therapy significantly improved clinical outcome after elective catheterisation or percutaneous coronary intervention.
How much faith one can put into this single study would be a matter of debate amongst research statisticians. However, while no benefit to the patient was found in the defined primary endpoints, the benefit of praying for an ill patient without the patient’s knowledge may have some personal value for the one doing the praying. This was not evaluated in this study. ..Maurice.