remote, retroactive intercessory prayer

11 02 2010

Famous and hilarious study. Praying for people 10 years AFTER they’d been in hopsital lead to better outcomes. Maybe they repeated the study with different patient groups until they got the magic p value, maybe they just got lucky, still, shows why it’s important to ask the right question when thinking about conducting research. But lead to a lovely, controversial Chrsitmas BMJ issue!

BMJ 2001;323:1450-1451 ( 22-29 December )

Beyond science?

Effects of remote, retroactive intercessory prayer on outcomes in patients with bloodstream infection: randomised controlled trial

Leonard Leibovici, professor

Department of Medicine, Beilinson Campus, Rabin Medical Center, Petah-Tiqva 49100, Israel

Objective: To determine whether remote, retroactive intercessory prayer, said for a group of patients with a bloodstream infection, has an effect on outcomes.
Design: Double blind, parallel group, randomised controlled trial of a retroactive intervention.
Setting: University hospital.
Subjects: All 3393 adult patients whose bloodstream infection was detected at the hospital in 1990-6.
Intervention: In July 2000 patients were randomised to a control group and an intervention group. A remote, retroactive intercessory prayer was said for the well being and full recovery of the intervention group.
Main outcome measures: Mortality in hospital, length of stay in hospital, and duration of fever.
Results: Mortality was 28.1% (475/1691) in the intervention group and 30.2% (514/1702) in the control group (P for difference=0.4). Length of stay in hospital and duration of fever were significantly shorter in the intervention group than in the control group (P=0.01 and P=0.04, respectively).
Conclusions: Remote, retroactive intercessory prayer said for a group is associated with a shorter stay in hospital and shorter duration of fever in patients with a bloodstream infection and should be considered for use in clinical practice.



13 10 2009


I get goose-pimpley just thinking about this word.

In conjours images of magicians in pointy hats, flowing robes, rabbits flying out of hats, and the queen of hearts appearing on foreheads.

Yet the origins of this word are somewhat unclear, and the subject of disagreements and civil war (ok, I made that last bit up…). Myself, I am unsure about the true background of this word, but I would like to share with you a story I heard that might be a part of it’s history.

In medicine, diseases have what we in healthcare refer to as the ‘natural history’ of the disease. This is what would happen to a sufferer (and in what timescale) if the disease was left to progress naturally. Of course, with some disease, this might be along the lines of – feels ok, feels worse, body destorys itself, patient dies. Most diseases do not follow this progression. Most diseases (think coughs, colds, flu…regular things…) go – feel ok, feel worse, feel worse, feel better, feel even better, feel back to normal. Often this happens within a week or so.

It is fact that people will often come to see their doctor or seek other health advice only at a very low point. With this as the case, the doctor rarely has to do anything – the natural history of the disease is such that the person will start to feel better in a few days…REGARDLESS OF WHAT THE DOCTOR DOES!

The story I heard of the root of abracadabra works with this principle. I was told that it was a spell to cure diseases. Every day, the sufferer was to write the word ABARACADABRA down, and leave it under their pillow. Each day, the sufferer would write it with one less letter. So day 2, the word would read ABARACADABR, day 3, ABARACADAB… and so on.

This would continue until only the initial A remained, and the patient was cured.

Magic, huh?!

Jo   xx