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Study finds proximity could be key to success of healing prayer
Date:8/4/2010

ven read the 20/125 line on a vision chart.

The study focuses on clinical effects of PIP and does not attempt to explain the mechanisms by which the improvements occurred.

Supplemental digital content for the published study reports on a follow-up study with similar findings conducted by the same researchers in urban Brazil. Co-authors include physicians Stephen C. Mory of Nashville, Tenn., and Rebecca Williams of Johannesburg, South Africa, and Michael J. McClymond, associate professor of theological studies at Saint Louis University.

Scientific research on intercessory prayer has in recent decades generated a firestorm of controversy, with critics charging that attempts to study the efficacy of prayer are inherently unscientific and should be abandoned because the mechanisms are poorly understood. Several studies have produced contradictory findings.

The title of the current study makes reference to the widely discussed 2006 "STEP" (study of the therapeutic effects of intercessory prayer) paper, which concluded that prayer itself had no effect, but certainty of receiving prayer adversely affected health. However, the STEP study, like most previous research on the efficacy of prayer, focused on distant intercessory prayer (DIP) rather than proximal prayer. It also included only one group of Protestant intercessors: Silent Unity, a "New Thought" group whose leaders have explicitly rejected prayers of supplication or petition as "useless."

"If empirical research continues to indicate that PIP may be therapeutically beneficial, then -- whether or not the mechanisms are adequately understood -- there are ethical and nonpartisan public policy reasons to encourage further related research," Brown said. "It is a primary privilege and responsibility of medical science to pursue a better understanding of therapeutic inventions that may advance global health, especially in contexts where conventional medical treatments are in
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Contact: Steve Hinnefeld
slhinnef@indiana.edu
812-856-3488
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert

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