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Year : 2009  |  Volume : 51  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 247-253

Prayer and healing: A medical and scientific perspective on randomized controlled trials


1 Professor of Psychopharmacology, Department of Psychopharmacology, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore - 560 029, India
2 Research Officer, Department of Psychopharmacology, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore - 560 029, India

Correspondence Address:
Chittaranjan Andrade
National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore - 560 029
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0019-5545.58288

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Religious traditions across the world display beliefs in healing through prayer. The healing powers of prayer have been examined in triple-blind, randomized controlled trials. We illustrate randomized controlled trials on prayer and healing, with one study in each of different categories of outcome. We provide a critical analysis of the scientific and philosophical dimensions of such research. Prayer has been reported to improve outcomes in human as well as nonhuman species, to have no effect on outcomes, to worsen outcomes and to have retrospective healing effects. For a multitude of reasons, research on the healing effects of prayer is riddled with assumptions, challenges and contradictions that make the subject a scientific and religious minefield. We believe that the research has led nowhere, and that future research, if any, will forever be constrained by the scientific limitations that we outline.



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