Beyond Science

Effects of remote, retroactive intercessory prayer on outcomes in patients with bloodstream infection: randomised controlled trial

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.323.7327.1450 (Published 22 December 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:1450
  1. Leonard Leibovici (leibovic{at}post.tau.ac.il), professor
  1. Department of Medicine, Beilinson Campus, Rabin Medical Center, Petah-Tiqva 49100, Israel

    Abstract

    Objective: To determine whether remote, retroactive intercessory prayer, said for a group of patients with a bloodstream infection, has an effect on outcomes.

    Design: Double blind, parallel group, randomised controlled trial of a retroactive intervention.

    Setting: University hospital.

    Subjects: All 3393 adult patients whose bloodstream infection was detected at the hospital in 1990-6.

    Intervention: In July 2000 patients were randomised to a control group and an intervention group. A remote, retroactive intercessory prayer was said for the well being and full recovery of the intervention group.

    Main outcome measures: Mortality in hospital, length of stay in hospital, and duration of fever.

    Results: Mortality was 28.1% (475/1691) in the intervention group and 30.2% (514/1702) in the control group (P for difference=0.4). Length of stay in hospital and duration of fever were significantly shorter in the intervention group than in the control group (P=0.01 and P=0.04, respectively).

    Conclusions: Remote, retroactive intercessory prayer said for a group is associated with a shorter stay in hospital and shorter duration of fever in patients with a bloodstream infection and should be considered for use in clinical practice.

    What is already known on this topic

    What is already known on this topic Two randomised controlled trials of remote intercessory prayer (praying for persons unknown) showed a beneficial effect in patients in an intensive coronary care unit

    A recent systematic review found that 57% of the randomised, placebo controlled trials of distant healing showed a positive treatment effect

    What this study adds

    What this study adds Remote intercessory prayer said for a group of patients is associated with a shorter hospital stay and shorter duration of fever in patients with a bloodstream infection, even when the intervention is performed 4–10 years after the infection

    Footnotes

    • Funding None.

    • Competing interests None declared.

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