A pragmatic, three-arm randomised controlled trial of spiritual healing for asthma in primary care

Cleland, Jennifer A.; Price, David B.; Lee, Amanda J.; Gerard, Stan; Sharma, Arun
June 2006
British Journal of General Practice;Jun2006, Vol. 56 Issue 527, p444
Academic Journal
Background Well-designed trials are required to assess if complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is effective. Aim This study assessed the effectiveness of spiritual healing for asthma. Design of study Randomised, placebo-controlled trial. Setting Aberdeen, Scotland. Method This was a single-blind, three-armed randomised, controlled trial of spiritual healing for asthma, comparing the effectiveness of five sessions of spiritual healing with placebo (delivered by an actor), and with a control group receiving normal care only. The primary outcome measure was the Juniper Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire (AQLQ). Secondary outcomes were forced exparatory flow in one second (FEV1), peak expiratory flow (PEr), HADS (Hospital Anxiety Depression Scale), SF-36 and MYMOP (Measure Yourself Medical Outcome Profile). Baseline and follow-up data were collected. Results Eighty eight adult patients receiving pharmacological treatment for asthma participated. AQLQ scores improved significantly from baseline and the end of treatment in all groups (spiritual healing P = 0.008; 'sham' healing P = 0.001 and control P = 0.01) but there was no significant difference between groups (P = 0.57). These improvements were maintained at follow-up 1 for two of the groups (spiritual healing P = 0.016; sham healing P = 0.001 and control P = 0.09) but none of the groups showed an improvement at follow-up 2 (spiritual healing P = 0.161; sham healing P = 0.016 and control P = 0.11). Similar proportions of patients in each group showed a clinically important improvement in AQLQ score. Analysis of AQLQ scores at end of treatment and both follow-up periods indicated no significance between group differences. NO consistent changes were seen in secondary outcome measures. possibly due to the small sample size. Conclusion Spiritual healing does not appear to have any specific affect on patient asthma related quality of life.


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