Scientific study of the effects of prayer

From: jeff davis (
Date: Mon Oct 01 2001 - 02:01:47 MDT

Extropian friends,

Please do not think ill of me. I found this on
Eurekalert at:

and well, Anders has challenged me to seek out my own
cultural myth. That self-examination provokes this
offering. ;-)


 Public release date: 28-Sep-2001

Contact: Annie Bayne
Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons

Prayer may influence in vitro fertilization success

Blinded and randomized international study reveals
surprising results

New York, NY-Prayer seems to almost double the success
rate of in vitro fertilization procedures that lead to
pregnancy, according to surprising results from a
study carefully designed to eliminate bias.

The controversial findings, published in the September
issue of the Journal of Reproductive Medicine, reveal
that a group of women who had people praying for them
had a 50 percent pregnancy rate compared to a 26
percent rate in the group of women who did not have
people praying for them. None of the women undergoing
the IVF procedures knew about the praying.

The researchers acknowledge the results seem
incredible and say unknown biological factors may be
playing a role in the difference between the two
groups. But they decided to go public with the results
in the hope that other scientists may carry out
studies to determine if the findings are reproducible
and, if so, what factors might be responsible for the
improved success rate in the group of women who had
people praying for them.

"We could have ignored the findings, but that would
not help to advance the field," says Dr. Rogerio Lobo,
chairman of obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) at
Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons
and lead author of the study.

"We are putting the results out there hoping to
provoke discussion and see if anything can be learned
from it. We would like to understand the biological or
other phenomena that led to this almost doubling of
the pregnancy rate."

The study, which had several safeguards in place to
eliminate bias, involved 199 women planning in vitro
fertilization and embryo transfers at the Cha Hospital
in Seoul, Korea, between December 1998 and March 1999.
A statistician randomly assigned the prospective
mothers to either a prayer group (100 women) or a
non-prayer group (99). Besides the women, the
physicians and medical personnel caring for the women
did not know a study of prayer was ongoing.

The people praying for the women lived in the United
States, Canada, and Australia and were incapable of
knowing or contacting the women undergoing the
procedures. Which women were in which group was not
revealed until the pregnancy data became available at
the completion of the study. The people praying were
from Christian denominations and were separated into
three groups. One group received pictures of the women
and prayed for an increase in their pregnancy rate.
Another group prayed to improve the effectiveness of
the first group. A third group prayed for the two
other groups. Anecdotal evidence from other prayer
research has found this method to be most effective.
The three groups began to pray within five days of the
initial hormone treatment that stimulates egg
development and continued to pray for three weeks.

Besides finding a higher pregnancy rate among the
women who had a group praying for them, the
researchers found older women seemed to benefit more
from prayer. For women between 30 and 39, the
pregnancy rate for the prayer group was 51 percent,
compared with 23 percent for the non-prayer group.

The researchers analyzed their data several ways to
see if they could find other variables that would have
accounted for the differences between the two groups.
However, no adjustments altered the results. The group
will continue to study whether its findings are
genuine and, if so, what mechanisms might be at work.

Other studies have shown that prayer seems to exert a
benefit for heart patients. The researchers believe
theirs is the first study looking at prayer and

None of the researchers are employed by religious
organizations and were not asked by religious groups
to perform the study. Dr. Kwang Y. Cha, director of
the Cha Hospital and an associate research scientist
at OB/GYN at Columbia University College of Physicians
& Surgeons, funded the research through his hospital.


Best, Jeff Davis

 "Everything's hard till you know how to do it."
                       Ray Charles

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