The Power of Prayer in Medicine

The above headline is the title of a story from the November 6, 2001 online issue of WebMD. The article starts off by reporting on two recent studies involving the use of prayer in medicine. The Power of Prayer in MedicineIn one of these recent studies, women at an in vitro fertilization clinic had higher pregnancy rates when total strangers were praying for them. In the other study the findings showed that people undergoing risky cardiovascular surgery have fewer complications when they are the focus of prayer groups.

Rogerio A. Lobo, MD, the chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University School of Medicine in New York City, published his study which appeared in the September issue of the Journal of Reproductive Medicine. The fertilization research was conducted at a hospital in Seoul, Korea, and found a doubling of the pregnancy rate among women who were prayed for.

The study involved 199 women who were undergoing in vitro fertility treatments at a hospital in Seoul, Korea, during 1998 and 1999. Half the women were randomly assigned to have one of several Christian prayer groups in the U.S., Canada, and Australia pray for them. A photograph of each patient was given to "her" prayer group. While one set of prayer groups prayed directly for the women, a second set of prayer groups prayed for the first set, and a third group prayed for both groups.

"We were very careful to control this as rigorously as we could," states Dr. Lobo. "Neither the women nor their medical caregivers knew about the study, or that anyone was praying for them. We deliberately set it up in an unbiased way. That meant not informing patients they were being prayed for, so it would not influence the women's outcome."

The results of the study were that the women in the "prayed for" group became pregnant twice as often as the other women. "We were not expecting to find a positive result," says Lobo. "Researchers have re-analyzed the data several times, to detect any discrepancies, but have been unable to find any," he says.

In a separate study, Mitchell W. Krucoff, MD, director of the Ischemia Monitoring Laboratory at Duke University Medical Center and the Durham Veterans Administration Medical Center in Durham, NC., studied 150 patients, who had serious heart problems, and were all scheduled for an angioplasty procedure. According to Dr Krucoff, the results of that study showed that patients who were prayed for during their procedure had far fewer complications. His results were published in the current issue of the American Heart Journal. "This was a very rigorously controlled study, just as we would look at any therapeutic, a new cardiovascular drug, a new stent, and see the results in terms of patients' outcomes," states Dr. Krucoff.