A randomized trial of the effects of remote intercessory prayer: Interactions with personal beliefs on problem-specific outcomes and functional status

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31 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives: Investigate the relevance of interpersonal belief factors as modifiers of the effectiveness of intercessory prayer. Design: Randomized clinical trial. Setting/location: Community-dwelling adults recruited from seven local church groups. Subjects: Eighty-six (86) male and female participants 18-88 years of age were randomly assigned to either treatment (n = 45) or control groups (n = 41). Interventions: Several volunteers committed to daily prayer for participants in the intervention group. Intercessory prayer commenced for 1 month and were directed toward a life concern or problem disclosed by the participant at baseline. Participants were unaware of being prayed for. Outcomes measures: Degree to which their problem had been resolved and the current level of concern they had about a specific life problem they described at baseline. Four component scores from the Medical Outcomes Study SF-20 were also used. Results: No direct intervention effect on the primary outcomes was found. A marginally significant reduction in the amount of pain was observed in the intervention group compared to controls. The amount of concern for baseline problems at follow-up was significantly lower in the intervention group when stratified by subject's baseline degree of belief that their problem could be resolved. Prayer intervention appeared to effectively reduce the subject's level of concern only if the subject initially believed that the problem could be resolved. Those in the intervention group who did not believe in a possible resolution to their problem did not differ from controls. Better physical functioning was observed in the intervention group among those with a higher belief in prayer and surprisingly, better mental health scores were observed in the control group with lower belief in prayer scores. Conclusions: The results of the current study underscore the role of interpersonal belief in prayer efficacy and are consistent with the literature showing the relevance of belief in health and well-being in general. The relevance of interpersonal belief factors of the participants is recommended in future investigations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)438-448
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Volume10
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine

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