Holistic Medicine and Health Prayer In Medicine. Stan Jack, D.O. Saint Joseph Hospital Family Practice Residency. “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.” James 5:15 NIV. Holistic Medicine - Not to be confused with Alternative Medicine!.
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Holistic Medicine and HealthPrayer In Medicine Stan Jack, D.O. Saint Joseph Hospital Family Practice Residency
“And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.”James 5:15 NIV
Alternative Medicine refers to techniques that are not currently (widely) accepted by conventional (MD or DO) practitioners. • Herbalism • Acupuncture • Homeopathy • Reiki • Prayer???
So then what is Holistic Medicine? One definition:“Holistic medicine is a system of health care which fosters a cooperative relationship among all those involved, leading towards optimal attainment of the physical, mental emotional, social and spiritual aspects of health.”-Canadian Holistic Medical Association
Another definition:“Holistic Health is actually an approach to life. Rather than focusing on illness or specific parts of the body, this ancient approach to health considers the whole person and how he or she interacts with his or her environment. It emphasizes the connection of mind, body, and spirit.”-American Holistic Health Association
Holistic Medicine sounds pretty good! These are admirable goals: • Physical health • Mental emotional health • Social health • Spiritual health
In Theory:Most physicians agree with a holistic approach. Who wouldn’t?!
In Practice:Sky-rocketing health care costs and shorter doctor visits make it difficult to address all of these issues in one visit. In addition, while most clinicians receive training to help you with your physical and mental/emotional health (and even social to a certain extent), most physicians are uncomfortable (and have even been taught to AVOID) issues of spirituality.
Why have we been taught to avoid spiritual issues? It is considered “Alternative” It’s not POLITICALLY CORRECT! It is one thing to be polite, but to avoid the subject altogether. . .
Things are changingThere have been MANY quality studies done over the years that have demonstrated that prayer is beneficial to patients (see Duke link), but recently two studies caught the attention of both the medical community and the media (see MSN link).
The first study evaluated the effects of PRAYER on FERTILITY(Journal of Reproductive Medicine, September 2001) • 199 women undergoing fertility treatment • Similar ages and fertility factors • HALF were assigned to be prayed for • HALF were not assigned to a prayer team • Findings: A DOUBLING of the pregnancy rate among women who were prayed for!
What was especially remarkable about this particular study? • The women were in Korea • The prayer groups were in the U.S., Canada, and Australia • Neither the women or the prayer groups knew they were part of a study - they never met!
The second study evaluated the effect of PRAYER on patients recovering from HEART SURGERY(American Heart Journal, November 2001) • 150 patients • All had coronary artery disease requiring stent placement • All underwent the stenting procedure
Post-operatively, each patient was randomly assigned to one of five groups: guided imagery, stress relaxation, healing touch, intercessory prayer, or no complementary therapy. • Findings: The “prayed for” group had fewer complications than any of the other patients, including those receiving other forms of complementary therapies!
Why was this study notable?Again, prayer was done not at the bedside, but at remote locations - the patients and the prayer groups never met!
Where do we go from here?Prayer has been shown to be an effective “treatment modality” by randomized controlled trials (RCTs), the most highly regarded form of clinical research. Physicians and other health care providers should consider making this a routine part of their practice.
Tips for getting startedPatients: • Talk to your doctor about prayer • If you want prayer to be a part of your holistic care, consider asking your physician to pray for you
Physicians: • Talk about these studies with your patients • Gain a better understanding of where your patients are spiritually • Ask for permission before you pray for your patients, and respect their beliefs