Prayer and Healing

Can spirituality influence health?


Among the myriad forms of alternative medicine being practiced in the United States, prayer is by far the most popular. More than half of American adults have prayed for better health, and a quarter have participated in prayer groups. Some doctors say that's reason enough to ask patients about their spiritual beliefs, because understanding those beliefs is essential to treating the whole person. But critics argue that probing into personal beliefs is intrusive. However, a majority of the nation's 135 medical schools now teach about spirituality, and many hospitals ask patients about it. Helping to drive this interest is the claim that religion improves your health. But scientific consensus has been reached on only one finding: Regular churchgoers live longer — and that may be ...

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