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Studying the efficacy of prayer

Audra Barclay

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Abstract

Although prayer is widely used for promoting good health and alleviating illness, its efficacy has not been established. But is it possible to subject prayer to scientific scrutiny?

Article Extract

One Sunday, Ms Marian Eure, RN, was part of a congregation that was praying for one of its members, Betty, a 60-year-old woman who was scheduled to have a lumpectomy for breast cancer. The next week Betty attended the hospital, ‘but when a scan was performed to localize the tumor, it was gone!’ recalls Ms Eure, a nurse case manager from Texas, USA.

It is not easy to establish the facts in anecdotal tales like this, but such stories are not uncommon. Many, if not most, doctors have been witness to cases of spontaneous remission or regression, and often the patients involved have their own belief about how they were cured. Studies are being performed to investigate whether prayer may play a part in healing. Are scientific studies able to confirm these anecdotal tales?

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