“I can believe anything provided it is incredible.”

Oscar Wilde

In a relatively new study, 61.3% of the public and 20.2% of professionals believe that a miracle can a save person in a persistent vegetative state and 57.4% of the public said divine intervention can save a person when doctors think treatment just isn’t going to work, compared with just 19.5% of trauma professionalst according to Lenworth Jacobs, M.D., of Hartford Hospital and colleagues1.

For the study, Jacobs and his colleagues conducted a random-digit-dialing telephone survey of 1,006 Americans over the age of 18 (margin of error was plus or minus 3.2 percentage points). They also surveyed a convenience sample of medical personnel involved in trauma care, including medical directors of trauma units, trauma nurses, and emergency services personnel.

The Power of Belief

Well, the power of belief is truly amazing:

In a study of 256 patients with chronic arm pain (rating of at least 3 on a 10-point pain scale), 133 were treated with sugar pills (one a day for 8 weeks) and the other with fake acupuncture (twice a week for 6 weeks).

In the study, 25% of the acupuncture group experienced side effects including 19 who felt pain; 31% of the pill group experienced dizziness, restlessness, nausea, dry mouth and fatigue.  After 10 weeks, the pill group reported significant decreases in pain (average 1.50 points) and after 8 weeks those receiving fake acupuncture reported a drop of 2.64 points.

The fake acupuncture had greater effects than the placebo pill on self-reported pain2.

I’ve become a bit more interested in the association between spirituality and religiosity with health3. I’ve wondered about the relationship between being prayed for and recovery from illness.

A study including 1,802 patients in six hospitals by Herbert Benson and his colleagues4 failed to show any impact of remote prayer although there has been some criticism of the study design (e.g., 45% of those invited to participate elected not to be part of the study, intercessors were not allowed to pray their own prayers and it was impossible to limit prayers for those in the “control” group).

In another of the study’s findings, a significantly higher number of the patients who knew that they were being prayed for — 59 percent — suffered complications, compared with 51 percent of those who were uncertain.

Finally, at a recent press conference, a pair of Bigfoot hunters reported they had found the creature’s body in a wooded area of Georgia (it’s apparently big and they have physical evidence).

No word on what trauma professionals would say about this…..Be well….

  1. Jacobs LM et al. “Trauma Death: Views of the Public and Trauma Professionals on Death and Dying From Injuries.” Arch Surg. 2008; 143(8): 730-735 []
  2. Kaptchuk, et al., 2006.  Sham device vs. pill: Randomised controlled trial of two placebo treatments. British Medical Journal []
  3. Giesser, B., Coleman, L., Fisher, S., Guttry, M., Herlihy, E., Nonoguch, S., Nowack, D., Roberts, C. & Nowack, K. (2005). Living Well: An integrative approach to wellness with multiple sclerosis. Paper presented at Annual Conference of The American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM) Board/American Society of Neurorehabilitation (ASNR), Chicago, Illinois. UCLA Department of Neurology and National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Southern California Chapter []
  4. Benson H, Dusek JA, Sherwood JB, Lam P, Bethea CF, Carpenter W, Levitsky S, Hill PC, Clem DW Jr, Jain MK, Drumel D, Kopecky SL, Mueller PS, Marek D, Rollins S, Hibberd PL. (2006). Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP) in cardiac bypass patients: a multicenter randomized trial of uncertainty and certainty of receiving intercessory prayer. 151(4):934-42 []

Kenneth Nowack, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist (PSY13758) and President & Chief Research Officer/Co-Founder of Envisia Learning, is a member of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations. Ken also serves as the Associate Editor of Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research. His recent book Clueless: Coaching People Who Just Don’t Get It is available for free for a limited time by signing up for free blog updates (Learn more at our website)

Posted in Engagement, Wellness

If You Enjoyed This Post...

You'll love getting updates when we post new articles on leadership development, 360 degree feedback and behavior change. Enter your email below to get a free copy of our book and get notified of new posts:

Follow Envisia Learning:

RSS Twitter linkedin Facebook

Are You Implementing a Leadership Development Program?

Call us to discuss how we can help you get more out of your leadership development program:

(800) 335-0779, x1