Saturday, April 01, 2006


NEW YORK (AP) -- In the largest study of its kind, researchers found that having people pray for heart bypass surgery patients had no effect on their recovery.

In fact, patients who knew they were being prayed for had a slightly higher rate of complications.

Researchers emphasized their work does not address whether God exists or answers prayers made on another's behalf. The study can only look for an effect from prayers offered as part of the research, they said.

They also said they had no explanation for the higher complication rate in patients who knew they were being prayed for, in comparison to patients who only knew it was possible prayers were being said for them.

The work, which followed about 1,800 patients at six medical centers, was financed by the Templeton Foundation, which supports research into science and religion. It will appear in the American Heart Journal.

Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School and other scientists tested the effect of having three Christian groups pray for particular patients, starting the night before surgery and continuing for two weeks. The volunteers prayed for "a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and no complications" for specific patients, for whom they were given the first name and first initial of the last name.

The patients, meanwhile, were split into three groups of about 600 apiece: those who knew they were being prayed for, those who were prayed for but only knew it was a possibility, and those who weren't prayed for but were told it was a possibility.

The researchers did not ask patients or their families and friends to alter any plans they had for prayer, saying such a step would have been unethical and impractical.

The study looked for any complications within 30 days of the surgery. Results showed no effect of prayer on complication-free recovery. But 59 percent of the patients who knew they were being prayed for developed a complication, versus 52 percent of those who were told it was just a possibility.

Dr. Harold G. Koenig, director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at the Duke University Medical Center, who did not take part in the study, said the results did not surprise him.

"There are no scientific grounds to expect a result and there are no real theological grounds to expect a result either," he said.

Science, he said, "is not designed to study the supernatural."

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AZ Dave said...

I first read about this article Saturday on this site. I've found it interesting that I have seen it discussed on many other sites and have heard many people talking about it in person. The study was done by a Christian based group, so when it comes back saying that there was no effect, shouldn't Christians at least acknowledge it? On many sites that are Christian influenced they argue that the research was flawed for any number of reasons ranging from letgitimate to ridiculus.

On one sight I read: ...there is also another point that Jesus taught that prayer should be private and personal (Matthew 6:6)

So according to this prayers had no effect because of it's lack of personalization. If that's the case why do people have "God bless America" bumper stickers, or say to random people "You're in my prayers", or even say "bless you" when someone sneezes. Those don't seem very personal to me.

Geo said...

The methodology of the experiment was impeccable, but many Christians don't understand science so they have no idea what they're saying. If they understood science, for example, they'd realize that evolution is an established fact. They are like the Catholic Church which suppressed Galileo.

Here's another interesting fact. Throughout all of history, science and religion have often clashed and, without exception, science has always been correct and religion proven defective.

But this is not the first study I've come across that shows that prayer has no effect. Any well-designed double-blind experiment always shows no effect. Sometimes Christians have been known to design some flawed experiment that shows some effect, but those are truly flawed experiments.

Thanks for you comments and attention to my posts.