Does intercessory prayer impact health
outcomes?
A Systematic Review of the Literature
Erik Rauterkus
Obama Academy of Int...
Path of Religion
Creation of
Universe
Big Bang
Life forms on
earth
Evolution of
Life
Early Humans
develop
Hunter and
Gathe...
Time to Think
Questions!!
Questions
No
Answers
Religion!!
Religion Develops
• Prayer becomes an aspect of religion
• The first written record of prayer dates back to
circa 2700 BCE...
Different Types of Prayer
To pray for their health
(intercessory prayer)
Best way to
help a sick
friend at the
time
People don’t
like that
their fri...
National Research on Prayer
• The National Institutes of Health has
concluded that Prayer is the most commonly
used form o...
Later Science Comes Along
Questions
No
Answers
Science
Prayer to
help others
(intercessory
Prayer)
Science
My
LTP
Systematic Review
• A specific review of literature trying to answer
a specific question.
• It only reviews high levels of...
Question for my Systematic Review
• Does intercessory prayer impact health
outcomes?
Methods
• PubMed
– National Institute of Health
– Strict procedure for works of research to be
included in PubMed
Acceptable studies for systematic
review
• Level 1 (systematic reviews/meta analysis)
• Level 2 (randomized controlled tri...
Levels of Evidence
• Table 1. Levels of evidence and grade
recommendations (Sackett et al, 2000).
1. Systematic Review and...
Grades of Recommendation
A. Consistent level 1 or 2 studies
B. Consistent level 3 or 4 studies
C. Level 5 studies or extra...
Investigation Process
Potentially relevant studies
identified using key words
in PubMed Search N=25
Studies excluded n=14
...
Studies that were Reviewed
• Byrd
• Sicher
• Harris
• Aviles
• Lebovici
• Palmer
• Benson
• Astin
• Lesniak
Studies that found that IP is beneficial
Grade Received
• Byrd C
• Sicher C
• Harris B
• Leibovici B
• Lesniak A
Study Subjects/Groups What they did Level of
Evidence
Comments/
Issues
Byrd (1988) 2 groups 1 group with IP,
1 group no IP...
Studies that found IP as having no
benefit
Grade Received
• Aviles A
• Palmer C
• Benson B
• Astin B
Study Subjects/Groups What they did Level of
Evidence
Comments/
Issues
Aviles et al
(2001)
2 groups 1 group with IP
1 grou...
Types of Problems in Research
• Who else is praying?
• Number of outcomes (Type 1 error)
• Related outcomes
• Randomizatio...
Study Randomized
Controlled
Control
Group
# of
subjects
# of
outcomes
Double-
blinded
Result
Byrd
(1988)
+ + 200 IP
200 no...
Conclusion
J M
Aviles
K T
Lesniak
Where we must go
Now
• A lot of poorly conducted research
• Two good studies
Next
• More research
• ONLY well conducted re...
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Does Intercessory Prayer Impact Health Outcomes, Systematic Reivew of the Literature

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Erik Rauterkus, 9th grader, did his long term project on the power of prayer by doing a systematic review of the scientific literature and evaluation of the evidence.

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Does Intercessory Prayer Impact Health Outcomes, Systematic Reivew of the Literature

  1. 1. Does intercessory prayer impact health outcomes? A Systematic Review of the Literature Erik Rauterkus Obama Academy of International Studies LTP April 13, 2010
  2. 2. Path of Religion Creation of Universe Big Bang Life forms on earth Evolution of Life Early Humans develop Hunter and Gathers SURPLUS Civilizations Time to Think
  3. 3. Time to Think Questions!!
  4. 4. Questions No Answers Religion!!
  5. 5. Religion Develops • Prayer becomes an aspect of religion • The first written record of prayer dates back to circa 2700 BCE • Homer • Shakespeare • Much more
  6. 6. Different Types of Prayer
  7. 7. To pray for their health (intercessory prayer) Best way to help a sick friend at the time People don’t like that their friends are sick People are sick 
  8. 8. National Research on Prayer • The National Institutes of Health has concluded that Prayer is the most commonly used form of alternative medicine. • NIH found – 55% of Americans have used prayer for health – 31% of Americans have asked someone to pray for their health – 23% of Americans partake in some sort of prayer group
  9. 9. Later Science Comes Along Questions No Answers Science
  10. 10. Prayer to help others (intercessory Prayer) Science My LTP
  11. 11. Systematic Review • A specific review of literature trying to answer a specific question. • It only reviews high levels of scientific research and analyzes all research papers on the topic. • Main purpose of a systematic review is to validate previous research on the topic, and to conclude based on the combination of information that each experiment presents.
  12. 12. Question for my Systematic Review • Does intercessory prayer impact health outcomes?
  13. 13. Methods • PubMed – National Institute of Health – Strict procedure for works of research to be included in PubMed
  14. 14. Acceptable studies for systematic review • Level 1 (systematic reviews/meta analysis) • Level 2 (randomized controlled trials) • One level 3 study was included, it had no control group, however, was acceptable.
  15. 15. Levels of Evidence • Table 1. Levels of evidence and grade recommendations (Sackett et al, 2000). 1. Systematic Review and meta analysis of randomized controlled trials 2. Randomized controlled trials 3. Non-randomized controlled trials 4. Descriptive studies (cross-sectional surveys, cohort studies, case-control designs) 5. Case studies 6. Expert Opinion
  16. 16. Grades of Recommendation A. Consistent level 1 or 2 studies B. Consistent level 3 or 4 studies C. Level 5 studies or extrapolations from level 3 or 4 studies D. Level 6 evidence or troubling inconsistencies or inconclusive studies at any level
  17. 17. Investigation Process Potentially relevant studies identified using key words in PubMed Search N=25 Studies excluded n=14 Reasons for exclusion: Review articles, not English, opinion pieces, reducing stress with prayer pieces. Potentially relevant studies retrieved for more detailed review n=11 Studies excluded n=1 Reason for exclusion: used direct prayer Studies included in review n=10 1 meta analysis, 1 non-primate study, 8 human studies
  18. 18. Studies that were Reviewed • Byrd • Sicher • Harris • Aviles • Lebovici • Palmer • Benson • Astin • Lesniak
  19. 19. Studies that found that IP is beneficial Grade Received • Byrd C • Sicher C • Harris B • Leibovici B • Lesniak A
  20. 20. Study Subjects/Groups What they did Level of Evidence Comments/ Issues Byrd (1988) 2 groups 1 group with IP, 1 group no IP 2,C Well designed Trend, but no sign. difference Sicher et al (1998) 2 groups 1 group with IP, 1 group no IP 2,C Well designed Randomized, double blind, sign difference in AIDs patients Harris et al (2000) 2 groups 1 group with IP 1 group no IP 2,B Well designed, controlled Prayer over short time, sign. difference Leibovici (2001) 2 groups 1 group with IP 1 group no IP 2,B Well controlled Large # of subjects Small difference Lesniak (2006) 2 groups of bush babies (non- human primates) 1 group had drug and IP 1 group had drug only 2,A Controlled for other prayers, only the prayers of the study group, blinded
  21. 21. Studies that found IP as having no benefit Grade Received • Aviles A • Palmer C • Benson B • Astin B
  22. 22. Study Subjects/Groups What they did Level of Evidence Comments/ Issues Aviles et al (2001) 2 groups 1 group with IP 1 group no IP 2,A Well controlled No difference Palmer et al (2004) 2 groups 1 group with IP 1 group no IP 2,C Lacking details. If patients thinks they can recover and receive prayer – better outcome Benson et al (2006) 3 groups 1 group told they might have IP but did not; 1 group told they might have IP and did; 1 group told they would definitely have IP 2,B Group that knew they would have IP did worse. Small number of outcome variables. Astin et al (2006) 3 groups 1 group with IP from trained individuals; 1 group with IP from untrained; 1 group with no IP 2,B Strong study. No difference
  23. 23. Types of Problems in Research • Who else is praying? • Number of outcomes (Type 1 error) • Related outcomes • Randomization can by chance be unbalanced • Averaged data ignores individual
  24. 24. Study Randomized Controlled Control Group # of subjects # of outcomes Double- blinded Result Byrd (1988) + + 200 IP 200 no IP 26 + + Sicher et al (1998) - + 20 IP 20 no IP 11 + + Harris et al (2000) + + 495 IP 495 no IP 10 + + Aviles et al (2001) + + 400 IP 400 no IP 6 + - Leibovici (2001) + + 1700 IP 1700 no IP 3 + + Palmer et al (2004) + + 45 IP 42 no IP 2 + ~ Benson et al (2006) + - 604 IP; 597 no IP, 601 IP 2 minor outcomes + ~ Astin et al (2006) + + 52 IP (prof) 52 IP 52 no IP Not detailed + ~ Lesniak (2006) + + 11 with IP 11 no IP 8 + +
  25. 25. Conclusion J M Aviles K T Lesniak
  26. 26. Where we must go Now • A lot of poorly conducted research • Two good studies Next • More research • ONLY well conducted research Future • Conclusion • Impact medical community differently from the general population

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