View Full Version : Statistics: on prayer and movement

Herman J. Woltring
11-20-1991, 05:21 AM
Dear Biomch-L readers,

I think that the following, unusual paper merits attention, particularly
if mentioned from an email address at a Catholic University such as the
University of Nijmegen in The Netherlands. Following the uproar in the
United Kingdom some 120 years ago about James Galton's "Statistical
inquiries into the efficacy of prayer" (Forthnightly Review 12:125-135,
1872) as discussed by Nobel Laureate Sir Peter Medawar in his charming
booklet "Induction and Intuition in Scientific Thought" (Methuen, London
1967), the paper "Positive Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer in
a Coronary Care Unit Population" (Southern Medical Journal 81(7):826-829,
1988) by Randolph C. Bird MD in San Francisco ought to be less controver-

ABSTRACT: The therapeutic effect of intercessory prayer (IP) to the Judeo-
Christian God, one of the oldest forms of therapy, has had little attention
in the medical litterature. To evaluate the effects of IP in a coronary
care unit (CCU) population, a prospective randomized double-blind protocol
was followed. Over ten months, 393 patients admitted to the CCU were ran-
domized, after signing informed consent, to an intercessory prayer group
(192 patients) or to a control group (201 patients). While hospitalized,
the first group received IP by participating Christians praying outside the
hospital; the control group did not. At entry, chi-square and stepwise
logistic analysis revealed no statistical difference between the groups.
After entry, all patients had follow-up for the remainder of the admission.
The IP group subsequently had a significantly lower severity score based on
the hospital course after entry (P < .01). Multivariant analysis separated
the groups on the basis of the outcome variables (P < .0001). The control
patients required ventilatory assistance, antibiotics, and diuretics more
frequently than patients in the IP group. These data suggest that inter-
cessory prayer to the Judeo-Christian God has a beneficial therapeutic effect
in patients admitted to a CCU.

- - - - - - - -

While the statistics of the paper are beyond me, the approach of this study
seems scientifically sound and worthy to be applied to the effects of other
modalities. Thus, what will be the efficacy of objective movement analysis
in surgical and rehabilitation protocols?

Herman J. Woltring (via TELNET from ASU, Tempe, AZ/USA)