Research underway to determine Americans’ views on prayer and medicine

“National study begins: Does prayer have a place in American medicine?” November 8, 2010.

A groundbreaking online study was recently initiated to discover if Americans believe prayer has a place in medicine. Shannon Pierotti, a graduate student at USciences, is using a social networking basis for recruiting participants in a national survey to assess attitudes regarding the inclusion of spirituality and prayer in medical practice.

In an era of rising health-care costs and struggle over reform in the United States, a key consideration may be a reintegration of the spiritual component of patient care that was lost as scientific advances progressed throughout the last century. Not finding their needs met by the current medical system, patients have increasingly turned to complementary and alternative medicine. Data from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey showed that almost half of respondents used prayer for their own health. 

Numerous studies in the scientific literature have reported beneficial health effects with use of prayer throughout a wide range of physical diseases and illnesses. Further, studies have also shown that incorporation of spirituality and prayer is associated with decreased medical service utilization and costs. An AAMC [Association of American Medical Colleges] report emphasized the recognition of spirituality as a “factor that contributes to health” and is found in all cultures and societies through participation in religion and/or belief in God. Yet a gap continues to exist between the medical care provided in the United States and the holistic care, including spirituality, which many patients are seeking.

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