Religion in Society

Study Begins: Does Prayer Have a Place in Medicine?

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A ground-breaking online study was initiated on November 1 to find out 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 in medical practice and integration of prayer.

In an era of rising health care costs and struggle over health care reform in the United States, a key consideration may be a re-integration of the spiritual component of holistic patient care that was lost as scientific and technological medical advances progressed throughout the last century. Not finding their needs met by our current medical system, patients have increasingly turned to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), including prayer.

Numerous studies in the scientific literature have already shown 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 have been associated with decreased medical service utilization and health care costs. The importance of the spiritual component was emphasized by the American Association of Medical Colleges in a 1999 report, "spirituality is recognized as a factor that contributes to health in many persons." 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.

Recruitment for this National study is through social networking as the word is spread across communities to reach the more than 75% of Americans who use the internet. Nearly 25% of the online time of Americans is reported to be spent on social networking sites and blogs. Adults who reside in the United States are invited to go to to take the short survey and be a part of this landmark study.

Shannon's hope is that the results of this National study will "help bridge the gap that continues to persist in medical care in the United States and will lead towards improved patient care and health."