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A PILOT STUDY EXAMINING THE EFFECT OF DISTANT HEALING ON TYPE II DIABETES PATIENTS.

ABSTRACT: The "Institut for Grenzgebiete der Psychologie und Psychohygiene, Freiburg" (IGPP) in cooperation with the "Abteilung Naturheilkunde, University Hospital, Zurich," investigated whether Distant Healing (DH) has a beneficial effect on patients with Type II diabetes regarding the state of the disease and quality of life. DH is defined as an intention held by an individual which he or she believes may modify the health status of the patient toward whom the intention is directed. Since there is a lack of clinical studies in this field and no knowledge of which parameters might indicate a possible effect of DH, an exploratory pilot study was carried out. It was planned to use the findings of this pilot study to finalize the design and variables of a double-blind confirmatory study. The data of this pilot study are reported here.

The threefold goals of the pilot study were to determine: (a) whether an investigation in this area is possible at all, and to observe the progression of the disease with various medical and psychological measures, in order to explore which of them might be sensitive for measuring possible treatment effects, (b) whether DH has a beneficial effect for diabetes patients, by isolating DH efforts from the usually attendant psychological expectation set, and (c) the best way to run the confirmatory study regarding design and outcome parameters as well as study organization and compliance of patients and healers.

Fourteen patients were observed for a period of 16 weeks. Within this time they each underwent a treatment of four consecutive weeks by five experienced and reliable healers. The healing intervention was performed at distance to ensure that patients and healers never met. The patients and the nurse did not know during which four of the 16 weeks the DH was applied. The healers were blind as to the diagnosis of their patients' disease. They received photographs of their patients and were asked to send a "mental intention for their health and well being" on a daily basis. They were not restricted to using a particular technique but had to keep a daily healing protocol.

With regard to medical parameters, short-term improvements in fructosamine level were observed during the healing period. Long-term improvements had been observed with reduction of glucose during the first half of the investigation. Some physical areas deteriorated. For instance, sensitivity in the feet decreased. There was a significant increase of cholesterol, which also held for the specific measure of LDL-cholesterol. Overall, the results showed a very heterogeneous picture. Both deteriorations and improvements showed short-term changes which could be traced to the DH period and long-term changes that were probably dependent on participation in the study. The Friedman test showed that there were some significant medical changes even when the overall outcome did not reach significance. This indicates that there was more happening than the authors were able to evaluate with their exploratory study.

Regarding the psychological data, only improvements were observed. Increased satisfaction showed up in bodily status and in social areas like contact with friends and acquaintances, with family members, and with partners. Accordingly, satisfaction with the ability to engage in leisure activities had improved. Thirdly, depression and injury through fear had diminished. Thus, this study has brought valid improvement for the participating patients.

Scientifically rigorous studies are needed to establish DH as an effective intervention for chronic diseases, and the design of a future investigation should be double-blind and randomized to control for expectation or placebo effects which could not be ruled out in the reported pilot study. It definitely is a promising challenge to explore DH with diabetes patients deeper and in more detail, by carrying out a more refined study design as is planned for the confirmatory study.
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Author:BINDER, MARKUS; EBNETER, MARK; SALLER, REINHARD; WALACH, HARALD
Publication:The Journal of Parapsychology
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 1999
Words:619
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