Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Friday, July 15, 2005

Prayer 'won't help sick'

Prayer 'won't help sick'
July 15, 2005 - 10:39AM

Praying for people who are facing heart surgery does not raise their chances of a cure or of avoiding death, according to an unusual study published in the British medical weekly The Lancet.

US doctors enrolled 748 patients with coronary artery disease who were about to undergo cardiac or arterial treatment using a catheter, a technique that can be done under local anaesthetic and is less invasive than open surgery but still carries a risk.

The patients were assigned to two groups of roughly equal numbers.

The first group had prayers said for them at a distance by Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and others; the second one had no prayers said for them.

In addition to this, half of each group received bedside training in music, imagery and touch - practising relaxed breathing and listening to laid-back music to prepare for their operation - and half did not.

At a six-month follow-up check, there was no significant difference in the outcome between the prayer and no prayer groups, in terms of mortality, the number of heart attacks or readmissions to hospital.

But in both groups, the patients who received the "music, imagery and touch" treatment did get a perceptible benefit.

They were less stressed and worried prior to the operation, and their death rate at six months was slightly lower when compared with patients who did not get this treatment.

The study was led by Mitchell Krucoff of the Duke University Medical Centre in North Carolina.