One-Third of Americans Use Prayer for Health

Almost a third of Americans use prayer, along with conventional and alternative medical care, to deal with health concerns. Harvard Medical School researchers did a national survey of 2,055 adults between October 1997 and February 1998 on their use of prayer. They were also asked about their use of conventional medicine and complementary and alternative medical therapies. The study found 75 percent of the survey respondents prayed for wellness, 35 percent used prayer for health concerns, and 22 percent used prayer for specific medical conditions.

Those most likely to use prayer were:

  • More than 33 years old
  • Female
  • Had more than high school education
  • Had depression, chronic headaches, back and/or neck pain, digestive problems or allergies

The authors state, "Prayer is most often directed toward wellness and used in conjunction with conventional medical care. People who use prayer for health concerns report high levels of perceived helpfulness but rarely discuss their use of prayer with their physicians. Physicians should consider exploring their patients' spiritual practice to enhance their understanding of their patients' response to illness and health."

Seems to me to be reprehensible malpractice not to recommend prayer when it is so simple, effective and inexpensive and proven to be effective.

Archives of Internal Medicine April 26, 2004

Post your comment
Click Here and be the first to comment on this article