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Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Proximal Intercessory Prayer (STEPP) on Auditory and Visual Impairments in Rural Mozambique

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Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Proximal Intercessory Prayer (STEPP) on Auditory and Visual Impairments in Rural Mozambique

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Proximal intercessory prayer (PIP) is a common complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapy, but clinical effects are poorly understood, partly because studies have focused on distant intercessory prayer (DIP). This prospective study used an audiometer (Earscan(R) 3) and vision charts (40 cm, 6 m "Illiterate E") to evaluate 24 consecutive Mozambican subjects (19 males/5 females) reporting impaired hearing (14) and/or vision (11) who subsequently received PIP interventions. We measured significant improvements in auditory (P <0.003) and visual (P <0.02) function across both tested populations. Rural Mozambican subjects exhibited improved audition and/or visual acuity subsequent to PIP. The magnitude of measured effects exceeds that reported in previous suggestion and hypnosis studies. Future study seems warranted to assess whether PIP may be a useful adjunct to standard medical care for certain patients with auditory and/or visual impairments, especially in contexts where access to conventional treatment is limited.
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Original Article
Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Proximal
Intercessory Prayer (STEPP) on Auditory and
Visual Impairments in Rural Mozambique
Candy Gunther Brown, PhD, Stephen C. Mory, MD, Rebecca Williams, MB BChir,DTM&H,
and Michael J. McClymond, PhD
Background: Proximal intercessory prayer (PIP) is a common com-
plementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapy, but clinical
effects are poorly understood, partly because studies have focused
on distant intercessory prayer (DIP).
Methods: This prospective study used an audiometer (Earscan
®
3) and
vision charts (40 cm, 6 m “Illiterate E”) to evaluate 24 consecutive
Mozambican subjects (19 males/5 females) reporting impaired hearing
(14) and/or vision (11) who subsequently received PIP interventions.
Results: We measured significant improvements in auditory
(P0.003) and visual (P0.02) function across both tested
populations.
Conclusions: Rural Mozambican subjects exhibited improved au-
dition and/or visual acuity subsequent to PIP. The magnitude of
measured effects exceeds that reported in previous suggestion and
hypnosis studies. Future study seems warranted to assess whether
PIP may be a useful adjunct to standard medical care for certain
patients with auditory and/or visual impairments, especially in con-
texts where access to conventional treatment is limited.
Key Words: audition, complementary and alternative medicine
(CAM), intercessory prayer, spirituality, vision
Proximal intercessory prayer (PIP), a term we coined to
refer to direct-contact prayer, frequently involving touch,
by one or more persons on behalf of another—is one of the
commonest complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)
therapies. Pentecostals and Charismatics—the fastest grow-
ing subgroups of Christianity— often pray for their own heal-
ing and request distant intercessory prayer (DIP), but they
consider PIP to be particularly efficacious. Pentecostals model
PIP on New Testament accounts of Jesus and his disciples
laying hands on the sick. Pentecostals conceptualize the Holy
Spirit’s “anointing,” sometimes represented by oil, as a tan-
gible, transferable substance, or love energy, communicated
through human touch. Comparing anointing with electricity
or radiation therapy, Pentecostals believe efficacy correlates
with frequency and length of exposure, types of prayers, and
From the Department of Religious Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington,
IN; Nashville, TN; Johannesburg, South Africa; and Department of Theo-
logical Studies, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO.
Reprint requests to Candy Gunther Brown, PhD, Department of Religious
Studies, Indiana University, 1033 E 3rd St., Bloomington, IN 47405-
7005. Email: browncg@indiana.edu
Supported by the John Templeton Foundation (West Conshohocken, PA),
Flame of Love Project/University of Akron (Akron, OH), $150,000; and
the Lilly Endowment (Indianapolis, IN), Indiana University (Blooming-
ton, IN), $50,000. The findings and conclusions do not necessarily rep-
resent the views of the funding agencies.
Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations
appear in the printed text, and links to the digital files are provided in the
HTML text of this article on the journal’s Web site (http://journals.lww.com/
smajournalonline).
None of the authors have any commercial, proprietary, or other financial
interest in any device, equipment, or other item mentioned in the sub-
mitted article.
This research received IRB approval from Indiana University (October 2006;
#06-11383).
Accepted March 4, 2010.
Copyright © 2010 by The Southern Medical Association
0038-4348/02000/10300-0864
Key Points
Although commonly employed as a complementary
and alternative medicine (CAM) therapy, the clinical
effects of proximal intercessory prayer (PIP) are
poorly understood, partly because most research has
focused on distant intercessory prayer (DIP).
This study found a significant effect of PIP on audi-
tory function across the tested population (P0.003).
This study found a significant effect of PIP on visual
function across the tested population (P0.02).
Further study seems warranted to assess whether PIP
may be a useful adjunct to standard medical care for
certain patients with auditory and/or visual impair-
ments, especially in contexts where access to conven-
tional treatment is limited.
864 © 2010 Southern Medical Association
“faith” and anointing levels of those receiving and offering
prayer. Some persons are considered more anointed than oth-
ers or as “specialists” in praying for specific conditions.
Scholarly research on the therapeutic effects of intercessory
prayer and other forms of “distant” healing has flourished in the
past two decades. However, most studies have focused on DIP
rather than PIP and/or failed to differentiate PIP from healing
techniques such as Therapeutic Touch and external qigong that
posit a different healing mechanism (eg, prana,qi vs Holy Spirit,
Jesus) and may engender correspondingly different levels of
anticipated efficacy. There is an inadequate evidential basis for
generalizing findings from studies of one class of healing tech-
nique to another, yet researchers persist in making such gener-
alizations.
1
The resultant literature has yielded uncertainty as to
whether prayer and/or distant healing is therapeutically benefi-
cial, neutral, or detrimental.
2,3
Of particular concern are findings like those of a well-
publicized “STEPP” (Study of the Therapeutic Effects of
Intercessory Prayer) paper, which concludes that “interces-
sory prayer itself had no effect on complication-free recovery
from CABG (coronary artery bypass graft), but certainty of
receiving intercessory prayer was associated with a higher
incidence of complications.”
4
Notably, one of the three groups
of intercessors, the only Protestant group, included in the
study, Silent Unity, Lee’s Summit, MO, has a theology and
practice of intercessory prayer that differs so widely from
Pentecostal prayer that the study analyzed an essentially dif-
ferent phenomenon: ie, Unity is a New Thought group that
understands prayer not as supplication to a deity outside the
self, but as an exercise of the divine/human power of mind.
Unity cofounder Myrtle Fillmore taught: “We do not promise to
say a prayer of words and have the saying work a miracle in
another individual. Our work is to call attention to the true way
of living and to inspire others to want to live in that true way.”
5
Most studies have, moreover, in seeking to avoid confounds
resulting from patients’ knowledge that they are receiving prayer,
focused on DIP. Although several prospective, double-blind, ran-
domized, controlled clinical trials concluded that DIP has posi-
tive therapeutic effects,
6–8
interestingly, Matthews et al
9
found
no significant effect for patients receiving DIP, but found a
significant benefit for patients receiving PIP. Although acknowl-
edging possible confounds of Hawthorne and placebo effects,
Matthews’s study design better corresponds with pentecostal
PIP. Unfortunately, the condition isolated for study, rheumatoid
arthritis, is relatively susceptible to psychosomatic improve-
ments.
10
Notably, Matthews et al
9
reported that improvements in
swollen and tender joints and reduction in pain and functional
disability was not accompanied by a parallel reduction in serum
inflammatory markers, suggesting that “clinical improvement
might be attributable more to alteration of patients’ perceptions
regarding their illness than to changes in inflammatory pathways
affecting their joints.”
Our study follows Matthews in focusing on PIP, but
diverges by isolating two conditions, auditory and visual im-
pairments, that are relatively less sensitive to, although not
unaffected by, psychosomatic factors.
11,12
Indeed, research-
ers have investigated effects of suggestion and hypnosis on
vision and hearing and claimed significant effects.
13–15
We
pursued two research questions: 1) Does PIP result in mea-
surable effects? If so, 2) how does the magnitude of effects
compare with suggestion and hypnosis findings?
Materials and Methods
Subjects were recruited prospectively at Charismatic Prot-
estant meetings cosponsored by Iris Ministries (headquartered in
Pemba, Cabo Delgado, Mozambique) and Global Awakening
(headquartered in Mechanicsburg, PA), at four locations in
Mozambique. The site was selected because Iris leaders are
widely reputed among Pentecostals globally as “specialists” in
praying for those with hearing and vision impairments— espe-
cially during village outreaches in rural Mozambique.
16
During evangelistic meetings (4 –12 June 2009, in Im-
piri, Namuno, and Chiu´re villages and Pemba city) Iris lead-
ers invited the “deaf” and “blind” to designated areas to re-
ceive prayer for healing by themselves and other Western and
Mozambican affiliates. Every consecutive subject was in-
cluded in the study who received prayer for vision or hearing
loss and assented to diagnostic tests (all subjects assented).
We provided study information sheets in Portuguese and of-
fered Makua (local language) translation. Measurements were
taken immediately before and after PIP.
PIP Methods
Western and Mozambican Iris and Global Awakening
leaders and affiliates who administered PIP all used a similar
protocol. They typically spent 1–15 minutes (sometimes an
hour or more, circumstances permitting) administering PIP.
They placed their hands on the recipient’s head and some-
times embraced the person in a hug, keeping their eyes open
to observe results. In soft tones, they petitioned God to heal,
invited the Holy Spirit’s anointing, and commanded healing
and the departure of any evil spirits in Jesus’ name. Those
who prayed then asked recipients whether they were healed.
If recipients responded negatively or stated that the healing
was partial, PIP was continued. If they answered in the af-
firmative, informal tests were conducted, such as asking re-
cipients to repeat words or sounds (eg, hand claps) intoned
from behind or to count fingers from roughly 30 cm away. If
recipients were unable or partially able to perform tasks, PIP
was continued for as long as circumstances permitted.
Measurement Methods
We prospectively evaluated a consecutive series of 24
Mozambican subjects (19 males/5 females) reporting audi-
tory (14 subjects) and/or visual (11 subjects) impairments
who received PIP. One subject reported both hearing and
vision impairment. Three subjects (eg, Subject A in Supple-
Original Article
Southern Medical Journal Volume 103, Number 9, September 2010 865
mental Digital Content, http://links.lww.com/SMJ/A1) were
excluded from analysis because of false positive responses dur-
ing audiometric testing. Due to field-imposed time constraints,
those subjects who self-reported improvements were given pri-
ority for retesting after PIP; we lacked time to re-test two sub-
jects, so we reported them as unimproved. Also because of time
constraints, some subjects reporting problems only in one ear
were only tested (pre- and post-PIP) in that ear. No subject
ordinarily wore hearing aids or corrective lenses.
For hearing assessment, a handheld audiometer (Earscan
ES3, Micro Audiometrics Corp, Murphy, N.C., calibrated 3
months prior to the study, with calibration valid for 12 months)
was used to measure hearing thresholds. Measurements could
not be conducted in an acoustically isolated room due to the
remote field location, and the high ambient noise (AN) from
the nearby crowd of people presented a considerable chal-
lenge to measurement accuracy. AN was measured with a
sound meter (Tenma model 72–935) in dB SPL in order to
investigate whether its fluctuations presented a potential con-
found in the before vs after PIP measurements; maximum and
minimum AN was tested for each subject during both pre-
and post-tests.
Due to time constraints, hearing thresholds were mea-
sured for all subjects only at 3 kHz in each ear separately
instead of across the whole frequency spectrum; we took
additional measurements as time allowed. A total of 18 ears
in 11 individuals with hearing impairments were analyzed.
The maximum intensity that could be generated by the audi-
ometer was 100 dB HL. Subjects responded by button press
or verbally. Subjects whose pre-PIP hearing thresholds ex-
ceeded 100 dB HL were assigned a conservative 105 dB HL
threshold for subsequent analysis. The measurement protocol
followed the standard Carhart-Jerger method.
17
(See Supple-
mental Digital Content, http://links.lww.com/SMJ/A1.)
Eleven visually impaired subjects were tested using 40
cm (6 subjects) and/or 6 m (5 subjects: this chart was used for
elderly subjects reporting distant vision problems) logarith-
mic, “Illiterate E” visual acuity charts (Precision Vision, La
Salle, Ill.), using both eyes together, or with each eye sepa-
rately as time allowed. The minimum measurable acuity was
6/120 on the 40-cm chart and 6/30 on the 6-m chart. A pre-
measured string was used to hold charts at the appropriate
distance. As researchers pointed to each letter, subjects
pointed or verbally indicated which direction it faced; re-
searchers did not indicate whether responses were correct,
making it less likely that subjects memorized the chart.
Results
Audition
There was a highly significant improvement in hearing
across the 18 ears of 11 subjects (t(10) 3.93, P0.003,
two-tailed) (Fig. 1). Two subjects showed hearing thresholds
reduced by over 50 dB HL. AN was very high during testing
(50 –100 dB SPL), but AN (85 dB SPL), calculated for each
subject individually as the average of the minimum and max-
imum noise during measurement was unchanged between
pre- and post-PIP tests (t(10) -0.48, P0.64, two-tailed),
indicating that AN was not likely to be a confound (Fig. 1, A).
The average 3 kHz threshold after PIP was 49.4 dB HL,
which was slightly high, perhaps due to high AN.
Vision
Significant visual improvements (both difference and ra-
tio of before vs after) were seen across the tested population
(Wilcoxon signed rank test z 2.49, P0.02, two-tailed)
(Fig. 2, A). Three of eleven subjects improved from 6/120 or
Fig. 1 Auditory results. A, Hearing thresholds at 3 kHz were significantly improved across the population. Improvements cannot be
accounted for by reductions in AN (dB SPL). B, Hearing threshold changes ranged from a 10 dB HL increase to over 60 dB HL
improvement.
Brown et al • Effects of Proximal Intercessory Prayer (STEPP)
866 © 2010 Southern Medical Association
worse to 6/24 or better, and one subject improved from un-
able to count fingers at 30 cm (6/2400) to 6/38 (Fig. 2, B).
All but one vision subject was tested in broad daylight; the
remaining subject was tested after dark, with electricity
provided by generator-powered stage lights and a flash-
light (See Subject E in Supplemental Digital Content,
http://links.lww.com/SMJ/A1); the lighting level did not
appear improved between the pre- and post-test (conducted
less than one minute later), making it unlikely that variable
lighting was a confound.
Discussion
Both auditory (P0.003) and visual (P0.02) im-
provements were statistically significant across the tested pop-
ulations. Generally, the greater the hearing or vision impair-
ment pre-PIP, the greater the post-PIP improvement.
There are several limitations of the study. First, field
conditions were challenging. There were no modern clinical
facilities available, and we were unable to diagnose the eti-
ology of auditory or visual impairments or to assess whether
structural changes occurred. There is no way of knowing
whether hearing changed at untested frequencies, or whether
subjects tested only with 40 cm or 6 m charts would have
exhibited change with the other chart. Second, although the
study was prospective and controlled for some potential con-
founds such as AN, there was no control group, only a null
hypothesis of no significant effect. Third, the study was not
double-blinded. In support of experimenter reliability, several
audition subjects showed no measurable improvement, de-
spite self-reported improvement.
Studies of PIP by nature expose subjects to suggestions
that their conditions will improve. Could observed effects be
attributable to suggestion or hypnosis?
12
Sheehan et al
13
showed that a few minutes of suggestion led to statistically
significant visual acuity improvement, but the effect was so
small that a subject would not be able to read one line smaller
on the Snellen chart. Several studies of hypnotic suggestion
showed an average 2
14
or 2.5
15
times increase in visual acu-
ity, with the largest reported improvement from 6/60 to 6/6,
13
despite no measurable changes in ocular refraction. Other
studies reported no improvement in vision or auditory thresh-
olds after hypnotic suggestion.
18
A 2004 review article sum-
marizes the results of suggestion and hypnosis studies as
failing to demonstrate significant improvements in vision or
hearing.
12
The average visual acuity improvement measured
here was over tenfold, significantly higher than in suggestion
or hypnosis studies (Fig. 3). It seems reasonable, however,
that Hawthorne,
19
placebo, hold-back effects,
20
and/or empa-
thy
21
may have contributed to improved function. Conversely,
demand effects
12
may also account for some cases in which
subjects reported improved hearing (but not vision) despite
no measurable improvement. It should be noted, however,
that in the Mozambican cultural context, traditional healers
typically charge clients more when healing occurs; thus, sub-
jects may have been predisposed to minimize reporting post-
PIP improvements.
Practice effects
22
might also have contributed to some
observed improvement, but these would also be present in
hypnosis studies to similar degrees and therefore may not
fully account for the larger effects observed here. Further-
more, the amount of practice was minimal at best. Subjects
with measurable hearing thresholds experienced the test tones
of a given frequency only a few times in each ear, following
the Carhart-Jerger protocol. In some cases, the threshold ver-
ification pass of the Carhart-Jerger protocol revealed a lower
pre-PIP threshold than the initial pass, apparently due to prac-
tice effects, and so the protocol continued until the measured
pre-PIP psychophysical hearing threshold was stable. In this
way, any existing practice effects were largely accounted for
already in the pre-PIP test. Subjects with no measurable hear-
ing threshold pre-PIP were deemed deaf in the corresponding
ear(s) if they both self-identified as deaf and exhibited no
tone response or visible startle response even to tones of 100
dB HL, in which case it is unclear how such an experience
might constitute practice. Likewise, visually impaired sub-
jects were allowed minimal experience with the eye chart
Fig. 2 Vision results. A, Binocular vi-
sual acuity increased significantly
across the population. B, Individual im-
provements ranged from no change to
an improvement from >6/120 to 6/7.5.
Original Article
Southern Medical Journal Volume 103, Number 9, September 2010 867
during the pre-PIP test. They were asked to read as far down the
eye chart as they were able to a single time, and care was taken
not to reveal the smaller lines below their pre-PIP acuity thresh-
old prior to the post-PIP test. It seems reasonable that subjects
whose pre- and post-PIP visual thresholds differed by only one
or two lines on the eye chart may have been exhibiting practice
effects. It seems much less likely that subjects who went from
being unable to read a single line (in which case it is unclear that
this experience constituted practice) to reading far down the
chart were exhibiting practice effects.
This study leaves unanswered the question of to what
extent PIP by different individuals would have resulted in
further improvements (or diminishments) in function. One
particular Iris leader was involved in administering PIP in 13
out of 25 interventions.
This research, which focused on clinical effects of PIP,
did not attempt to explain mechanisms by which functional
improvements occurred. Future studies might be designed to
test whether impairments with certain etiologies are more
susceptible to improvement through PIP, to probe the mech-
anisms by which PIP produces effects, and to assess whether
improvements are long term. It would be desirable to fol-
low-up with subjects several days or weeks after PIP, al-
though systematic follow up would be extremely difficult under
similar field conditions (we tried but could only locate one sub-
ject for retesting the following day—see Subject B in Supple-
mentary Digital Content, http://links.lww.com/SMJ/A1). Con-
ducting similar studies under controlled clinical conditions in
North America would be desirable, yet neither Iris nor Global
Awakening claims comparable results in industrialized coun-
tries (arguing that “anointing” and “faith” are lower where
medical therapies are available)—see Supplemental Digital
Content (http://links.lww.com/SMJ/A1) for our unsuccessful
attempts to collect data in the US. Possible control groups
for future investigations might include subjects receiving
“sham” PIP or Therapeutic Touch. The researchers might
use themselves as controls by testing their own hearing in
conditions of low and high AN. Effects of AN and subject-
subjectivity might be mitigated by using earbuds instead of
supra-aural headphones and by utilizing otoacoustic emis-
sions technology.
Our study has three main findings. First, Mozambican
subjects did exhibit improved auditory and/or visual acuity
subsequent to PIP interventions. Second, the magnitude of
measured effects exceeds that reported in previous studies of
suggestion and hypnosis. Although it would be unwise to
overgeneralize from these preliminary findings for a small
number of PIP practitioners and subjects collected in far-
from-ideal field conditions, future study seems warranted to
assess whether PIP may be a useful adjunct to standard med-
ical care for certain patients with auditory and/or visual im-
pairments, especially in contexts where access to conven-
tional treatment is limited. The implications are potentially
vast given World Health Organization estimates that 278 mil-
lion people, 80% of whom live in developing countries, have
moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears, and 314 mil-
lion people are visually impaired, 87% of whom live in de-
veloping countries, and only a tiny fraction of these popula-
tions currently receive any treatment.
23
Acknowledgments
The authors thank Indiana University’s Statistical Con-
sulting Center for assistance with data analysis, Indiana Uni-
versity’s Department of Speech & Hearing Sciences for equip-
ment consultation, Joshua W. Brown, PhD (Dept.
Psychological & Brain Sciences, Indiana University) for as-
sistance with data collection and analysis; Mark Reinke, MD
(otolaryngologist), Kenneth Scott, MD (otolaryngologist),
Harry Cohen, MD (ophthalmologist), Clifford W. Brooks,
OD (School of Optometry, Indiana University), and Paul
Cooke, PhD (Dept. Communicative Sciences & Disorders,
Michigan State University) for critical feedback on the manu-
script.
Fig. 3 Comparison with suggestion and hypnosis. A, Studies of
hypnotic suggestion and suggestion without hypnosis have found
small but statistically significant improvements in visual acuity.
The magnitude of effects across the population was significantly
larger in PIP than in suggestion and hypnosis. B, The maximum
improvement in visual acuity for PIP was larger than the max-
imum improvement reported for suggestion and hypnosis.
Brown et al • Effects of Proximal Intercessory Prayer (STEPP)
868 © 2010 Southern Medical Association
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Original Article
Southern Medical Journal Volume 103, Number 9, September 2010 869
... PIP refers to direct-contact prayer, frequently involving touch, by one or more persons on behalf of another. 16 PIP, as described by Brown and colleagues 16 refers to prayer that typically lasts for less than 15 min, and involves touch, often with the intercessor's eyes open to observe results. The intercessor typically uses "soft tones" to pray. ...
... PIP refers to direct-contact prayer, frequently involving touch, by one or more persons on behalf of another. 16 PIP, as described by Brown and colleagues 16 refers to prayer that typically lasts for less than 15 min, and involves touch, often with the intercessor's eyes open to observe results. The intercessor typically uses "soft tones" to pray. ...
... He/she may use different types of prayer, for example, to "petition God to heal, invite the Holy Spirit's anointing, and/or command the healing and departure of any evil spirits in Jesus' name." 16 The observed effects of prayer vary widely, from no apparent effect to remarkable improvement in conditions that are not medically expected to improve, such as the resolution of gastroparesis. 17 Prayer is one of the most common complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies. ...
Article
Full-text available
An 18-year-old female lost the majority of her central vision over the course of three months in 1959. Medical records from 1960 indicate visual acuities (VA) of less than 20/400 for both eyes corresponding to legal blindness. On fundus examination of the eye there were dense yellowish-white areas of atrophy in each fovea and the individual was diagnosed with juvenile macular degeneration (JMD). In 1971, another examination recorded her uncorrected VA as finger counting on the right and hand motion on the left. She was diagnosed with macular degeneration (MD) and declared legally blind. In 1972, having been blind for over 12 years, the individual reportedly regained her vision instantaneously after receiving proximal-intercessory-prayer (PIP). Subsequent medical records document repeated substantial improvement; including uncorrected VA of 20/100 in each eye in 1974 and corrected VAs of 20/30 to 20/40 were recorded from 2001 to 2017. To date, her eyesight has remained intact for forty-seven years.
... This case report 15 16 refers to direct-contact prayer typically less than 15 min, frequently involving touch, by placing hands on the recipient and sometimes embracing them in a hug, keeping the intercessor's eyes open to observe results. The prayer is typically done in "soft tones". ...
... The intercessor may "petition God to heal, invite the Holy Spirit's anointing, and/or command the healing and departure of any evil spirits in Jesus' name." 16 The observed effects of prayer vary widely, from no apparent effect to remarkable improvement in conditions that are not medically expected to improve, such as longstanding blindness or deafness. 16 This practice is done by one or more persons on behalf of another and is one of the most common complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) therapies. ...
... 16 The observed effects of prayer vary widely, from no apparent effect to remarkable improvement in conditions that are not medically expected to improve, such as longstanding blindness or deafness. 16 This practice is done by one or more persons on behalf of another and is one of the most common complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) therapies. 16 ...
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A male infant at two weeks of age was hospitalized vomiting forcefully. He had a pyloromyotomy. He did not improve with medical therapy. The diagnosis of gastroparesis was made after a nuclear medicine gastric emptying study and intestinal manometry. He required a gastrostomy tube (g-tube) and a jejunostomy tube (j-tube) for feeding. At 11 months of age, the j-tube was converted into a feeding jejunostomy with Roux-en-Y limb. For 16 years he was completely dependent on j-tube feeding. In November 2011, he experienced proximal-intercessory-prayer (PIP) at a church and felt an electric shock starting from his shoulder and going through his stomach. After the prayer experience, he was unexpectedly able to tolerate oral feedings. The g- and j-tube were removed four months later and he did not require any further special treatments for his condition as all symptoms had resolved. Over seven years later, he has been free from symptoms. This article investigates a case of PIP as an alternative intervention for resolving severe idiopathic gastroparesis when maximal medical management is not effective.
... Credibility further increased since the findings of the AIADH corresponded with the data of the in-depth interviews and hetero anamnesis. In a study by Brown et al 22 in 2010 hearing thresholds were measured with a handheld audiometer before and after intercessory prayer for impaired hearing (and low vision) in rural Mozambique. A significant improvement was found across the tested population, although field conditions were challenging, as the authors say. ...
... Why not turn to other explanatory frameworks 'beyond the brain'? Brown et al (22,23) found significant improvements of impaired hearing in their studies on intercessory prayer. But it remains a question why some of their subjects had incongruities, to some extent similar as in our reports. ...
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Aim to enhance the understanding of documented mismatches between ‘subjective’ experiences and ‘objective’ data in three cases of self-reported instantaneous healing of hearing impairment upon prayer. Method description of three cases taken out of a larger retrospective case-based study of prayer healing in the Netherlands. In this larger study multiple reported healings were investigated using both medical files and patients’ narratives through in-depth interviews. A subset of three cases with dramatic subjective reduction of hearing impairment upon prayer was studied. These patients underwent extensive additional investigations at the audiology center of the Amsterdam University Medical Centre. All data was evaluated by an interdisciplinary medical assessment team, subsequent analysis was transdisciplinary. Results the three case histories with self-reported healing after prayer demonstrated a clear mismatch between subjective experiences and objective findings. No measurable improvements were found in four different audiological testing methods. However, in-depth interviews, hetero-anamnesis and a validated questionnaire all confirmed the healings. The medical assessment team could not label these healings as ‘medically remarkable’ because of absence of measurable ‘objective’ changes, but they did consider them as ‘remarkable in a broader sense’. On expert consultation no equivalents of mismatches to this extent could be found. The healing experiences of our participants involved their entire being with profound positive effects in different domains of their lives, and a perception of a benevolent God who acted upon them. There was a distinctive pattern, labelled by the participants as a healing of mind, soul and body. Conclusions The subjective-objective incongruities that were found were not well understood. We noticed a paradox: the ‘objective’ measurements did not reflect hearing abilities in daily life where-as ‘subjective experiential’ data did. The latter could be ‘objectified’ and validated in various ways. In fact, a rigid distinction between ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ was not relevant here, nor a hierarchy among them. A model leaving room for different causations (horizontal epistemology) complied best with the multi dimensionality we came across.
... Ao final da pesquisa havia um aumento dessa prática entre os integrantes do GE (94,5%) e pequena queda no percentual de intercessores no GC (82%), permanecendo o hábito de rezar pelos outros como o mais referido nos dois grupos. Um estudo realizado em Moçambique com 19 homens e cinco mulheres com deficiência auditiva e/ ou visual detectou melhora significativa nesses indivíduos após submetê-los à Proximal Intercessory Prayer (PIP), comparando com os efeitos obtidos pela sugestão e pela hipnose (BROWN et al., 2010). ...
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... They measured significant improvements in both auditory (P r 0.003) and visual (P r 0.02) functions following healing intentions in the form of prayer. 46 In a phase-1 pilot study, researchers assessed the influence of shamanic "journeying" and other shamanic healing techniques in 23 female patients with temporomandibular joint dysfunction and pain. Pain improved significantly and results were highly significant. ...
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This chapter is the first of thirteen reviews in this volume providing a public health perspective on the empirical evidence relating religion and spirituality (R/S) to physical and mental health. This chapter emphasizes an essentially epidemiologic perspective, reviewings evidence bearing on a “generic” model of how an individual’s engagement in religion/spirituality may causally affect that individual’s health through pathways that include health behaviors, social connections and support, ability to draw upon distinctively religious/spiritual methods of coping, and mental health. In US-based and often in international and non-Western samples, R/S factors tend to correlate with healthier profiles on social connections, health behaviors, substance abuse, mental health, and psychological well-being. R/S coping is multidimensional and adds incremental predictiveness beyond measures of secular coping. Hundreds of studies link positive R/S coping to better adjustment, and negative forms of R/S coping to worse adjustment.
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This study examines a large collection of healing testimonies published by a Danish charismatic Christian organization. Diseases and symptoms reported to be healed through charismatic prayer healing (CPH) are counted and coded using ICD-10 diagnostic criteria. The analysis shows that even in testimonies published to convince other believers about the divine powers of prayer, most accounts include relatively mundane reports of pain relief in the musculoskeletal system. Cases of complete and immediate healing of serious diseases, echoing miracles reported in the Bible, also exist in the material, but such cases appear to be predicted by variables relating to the credibility of each testimony. The notable proportion of pain relief in this supposedly highly biased Christian material is interpreted as support for a popular but poorly documented assumption that CPH mainly affects subjective symptoms responsive to expectation modulation.
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To examine the psychometrics of the Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy (JSPE) among a sample of Italian physicians. The JSPE was translated into Italian using back-translation procedures to ensure the accuracy of the translation. The translated JSPE was administered to 778 physicians at three hospitals in Rome, Italy in 2002. Individual empathy scores were calculated, as well as descriptive statistics at the item and scale level. Group comparisons of empathy scores were also made among men and women, physicians practicing in medical or surgical specialties, physicians working in different hospitals, and at physicians at various levels of career rank. Results are reported for 289 participants who completed the JSPE. Item-total score correlations were all positive and statistically significant. The prominent component of "perspective taking," which is the most important underlying construct of the scale, emerged in the factor analysis of the JSPE and was similar in both Italian and American samples. However, more factors appeared among Italian physicians, indicating that the underlying construct of empathy may be more complex among Italians. Cronbach coefficient alpha was .85. None of the group differences observed among physicians classified by gender, hospital of practice, specialty, or level of career rank reached statistical significance. Findings generally provide support for the construct validity and reliability of the Italian version of the JSPE. Further research is needed to determine whether the lack of statistically significant differences in empathy by gender and specialty is related to cultural peculiarities, the translation of the scale, or sampling.
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Behavioral scientists have become increasingly involved in the psychological assessment and treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The present paper provides a critical review of research on the role of psychological factors in the etiology, pathogenesis, and treatment of this chronic illness. While the existence of a premorbid “rheumatoid arthritis personality” has not received substansive support, there is growing evidence for the deleterious impact of psychological stress on RA pathophysiology. Further, biofeedback and cognitive-behavioral therapy have been shown to be effective in reducing symptomatology and functional disability among RA patients. The long-term benefit of these treatments, however, has yet to be demonstrated.
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Typescript. Thesis (Ph.D.)--New School for Social Research, 1958. Bibliography: leaves 183-192.
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Prayer is amongst the oldest and most widespread interventions used with the intention of alleviating illness and promoting good health. Given the significance of this response to illness for a large proportion of the world's population, there has been considerable interest in recent years in measuring the efficacy of intercessory prayer for the alleviation of ill health in a scientifically rigorous fashion. The question of whether this may contribute towards proving or disproving the existence of God is a philosophical question lying outside the scope of this review of the effects of prayer. This revised version of the review has been prepared in response to feedback and to reflect new methods in the conduct and presentation of Cochrane reviews. To review the effects of intercessory prayer as an additional intervention for people with health problems already receiving routine health care. We systematically searched ten relevant databases including MEDLINE and EMBASE (June 2007). We included any randomised trial comparing personal, focused, committed and organised intercessory prayer with those interceding holding some belief that they are praying to God or a god versus any other intervention. This prayer could be offered on behalf of anyone with health problems. We extracted data independently and analysed it on an intention to treat basis, where possible. We calculated, for binary data, the fixed-effect relative risk (RR), their 95% confidence intervals (CI), and the number needed to treat or harm (NNT or NNH). Ten studies are included in this updated review (7646 patients). For the comparison of intercessory prayer plus standard care versus standard care alone, overall there was no clear effect of intercessory prayer on death, with the effect not reaching statistical significance and data being heterogeneous (6 RCTs, n=6784, random-effects RR 0.77 CI 0.51 to 1.16, I(2) 83%). For general clinical state there was also no significant difference between groups (5 RCTs, n=2705, RR intermediate or bad outcome 0.98 CI 0.86 to 1.11). Four studies found no effect for re-admission to Coronary Care Unit (4 RCTs, n=2644, RR 1.00 CI 0.77 to 1.30).Two other trials found intercessory prayer had no effect on re-hospitalisation (2 RCTs, n=1155, RR 0.93 CI 0.71 to 1.22). These findings are equivocal and, although some of the results of individual studies suggest a positive effect of intercessory prayer,the majority do not and the evidence does not support a recommendation either in favour or against the use of intercessory prayer. We are not convinced that further trials of this intervention should be undertaken and would prefer to see any resources available for such a trial used to investigate other questions in health care.
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The therapeutic effects of intercessory prayer (IP) to the Judeo-Christian God, one of the oldest forms of therapy, has had little attention in the medical literature. To evaluate the effects of IP in a coronary care unit (CCU) population, a prospective randomized double-blind protocol was followed. Over ten months, 393 patients admitted to the CCU were randomized, after signing informed consent, to an intercessory prayer group (192 patients) or to a control group (201 patients). While hospitalized, the first group received IP by participating Christians praying outside the hospital; the control group did not. At entry, chi-square and stepwise logistic analysis revealed no statistical difference between the groups. After entry, all patients had follow-up for the remainder of the admission. The IP group subsequently had a significantly lower severity score based on the hospital course after entry (P less than .01). Multivariant analysis separated the groups on the basis of the outcome variables (P less than .0001). The control patients required ventilatory assistance, antibiotics, and diuretics more frequently than patients in the IP group. These data suggest that intercessory prayer to the Judeo-Christian God has a beneficial therapeutic effect in patients admitted to a CCU.
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The effect of positive suggestion on myopic, or nearsighted, visual acuity was assessed under optimum physiological conditions. The acuity of hypnotically susceptible myopes significantly improved after presentation of direct hypnotic and posthypnotic suggestion, with improvement being greatest initially and the hypnotic procedure most effective for those Ss with the poorest acuity. Transfer to the normal waking state outside the experimental situation was demonstrated in this instance. Similar suggestions given without hypnosis to different but equally susceptible myopes resulted in an equal magnitude of visual improvement in the laboratory but little transfer outside the experimental situation. No significant effects were demonstrated when testing hypnotically insusceptible myopes or Ss with normal or hyperopic (farsighted) vision. Optometric examinations, conducted before, during, and after the experimental treatment, indicated that alterations in the refractive power of the eye could not account for the dramatic changes in visual acuity observed.