Research that appeared in Annals of Internal Medicine (2000;132:903-910) analyzed 23 earlier studies of “distance healing” (like prayer) and therapeutic touch (like the “laying on of hands’). Seven of the studies involved distance healing and 11 of the studies involved therapeutic touch. Therapeutic touch is based on the idea that the patient has an energy field that can be affected by a practitioner. This is not massage, which physically works on the soft tissues. Other research in Annals of Internal Medicine also supports the effectiveness of prayer
Data was gathered from nearly 2,800 patients. More than half of the studies 13 of the 23 studies) showed that therapeutic touch and distance healing had some positive effect such as decreased pain or improved healing.
Other research appearing in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine (2001; 46(9):781-7) looked at the effect on the frequency of becoming pregnant for women receiving in vitro fertilization. This was a double-blind, randomized study. The 219 women, aged 26-46 who participated did not know about the prayer. The group receiving the prayer had a higher pregnancy rate (50% compared to 26%).