Talk:Prayer does not help heart patients, study finds

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Note that the BBC calls it a "Duke University Medical Center study"; this is incorrect, it's a multicenter study. I've also sent an e-mail inquiry to Bruce Flamm from [1] and asked him for his comments on the matter.--Eloquence 05:46, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

Confusing statisticsEdit

The study ... also examined the effects of [MIT therapy],
but found no statistically significant effect, while
"mortality at 6 months was lower with MIT therapy than
with no MIT therapy ..."

Does anybody else find that sentence contradictory? -- Phyzome is Tim McCormack 13:44, July 20, 2005 (UTC)

The article originally said "composite effect"; this is what the study says as well. My Lancet login doesn't seem to work anymore, so I can't give you an exact quote, but it referred to the "composite endpoint" vs. individual outcomes.--Eloquence 15:24, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

And what's "composite endpoint vs. individual outcomes" supposed to mean? This needs to be understandable to regular readers, not stat majors. :-P -- Phyzome is Tim McCormack 15:27, July 20, 2005 (UTC)

As the article says, the study examined "adverse cardiovascular events in hospital, re-admission or death within six months"; I believe the "composite endpoint" simply refers to a combined variable, whereas the individual variable of "death within six months" showed (small) differences under MIT therapy.--Eloquence 15:28, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

Elo, saying stuff here is not really good enough. The bottom line is that "composite" has no meaning to laymen. If you want to include it, explain it in the article. PS use bugmenot to get into the Lancet. Dan100 (Talk) 16:21, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

NPOV?Edit

I'm feeling that this is a jab at religion in its whole, I don't see anything that values any other opinion rather than praying won't help you.

 A multi-center US study of 748 patients with coronary
artery disease who were to undergo treatment has found that
distant prayer by Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and Buddhist
groups had no measurable effects on the medical health of the
study subjects.
  • Where is the line between "distant" and "non-distant" prayer? Define better. Also, include 'the study concluded', don't just say that there were no effects.
Non-distant prayer is prayer where the praying person is directly sitting nearby, and the prayed for person knows that they are being prayed for; this may result in a placebo effect.--Eloquence 15:27, 20 July 2005 (UTC)
  • See below on my opinion on that. --Mrmiscellanious 15:31, 20 July 2005 (UTC)
  • Prayer would inherently mean "distant prayer." If you studied "nondistant prayer," you'd say the placebo effect associated to prayer, and perhaps control for it by actually having people pray for a control group. Anyway, the first sentence of the article is not the place to sort out such subtleties of experiment design.
 One limitation was that nearly 67% of the non-prayer group
believed they were being prayed for - a potential placebo effect
that may have hidden any small differences between the two groups.
  • This study is basing it on people who believe they are being prayed for? What if they're athiests, or other? We need more information before this gets a NPOV rating.
I don't understand this argument. In any representative population in a Western / Christian country, you'll have people who believe they are being prayed for when undergoing surgery. What does it have to do with them being atheists?--Eloquence 15:27, 20 July 2005 (UTC)
  • How would an athiest be any comforted if someone told them they were praying for them? The whole study should be voided just on that figure. In the article, it never states that the patients themselves were religious. --Mrmiscellanious 15:31, 20 July 2005 (UTC)
Nobody told the patients that someone was praying for them. Regardless, some of them believed it anyway.--Eloquence 15:36, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

Can someone please fix these things in order to make this article better and NPOV? --Mrmiscellanious 15:06, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

MrM, the patients never knew if they were being prayed for or not - but 67% of them believed they were (don't ask me why they thought that). I'm not sure why being athesist or not should is important - does God only answer prayers for believers...? Dan100 (Talk) 16:25, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

  • So they weren't being prayed for, they were only thinking that people were praying for them? How does that conduct a respectable study at all? --Mrmiscellanious 18:06, 20 July 2005 (UTC)
Nope. It's complicated :-). They were being prayed for without being told, but they were also asked whether they believed they were prayed for, to check for possible placebo influence.--Eloquence 23:39, 20 July 2005 (UTC)
      • This is a very non-scientific study. The effect of prayer on an individual is something that can not be measured. There are other scientific anomalies that can contribute to a persons' health or lack thereof. I request that this article be removed immediately.

POV/POVEdit

 A number of studies has recently examined the 
possible effects of prayer, with mixed results.
While some religious groups have hailed studies
which found positive results, skeptics have challenged
the very notion of scientifically examining prayer
[1], and have described past studies as flawed or
even fraudulent. [2]

POV on part of author. Too biased against religion.

Not an actionable objection. Elaborate.--Eloquence 17:14, 20 July 2005 (UTC)
Ok, first, I'm atheist, so this isn't coming from my religious background. My objection is that this paragraph illustrates how the article presents a point of view, acknowledges the opposition's POV, and then proves the opposition wrong with anecdotal evidence. I don't see a point to including the first two of the last three paragraphs.
A number of studies has recently examined the possible...
"The mechanisms through which distant intercessory...
--RossKoepkeTalk 17:34, 20 July 2005 (UTC)
It doesn't "prove the opposition wrong" - that is just your atheist POV speaking :-). The opposition would vehemently disagree with the criticism from skeptics. It's perfectly fine to provide context and background, though I would be happy to move this paragraph into a right-aligned "background" box.--Eloquence 17:35, 20 July 2005 (UTC)
Would I be wrong to interpret that statement as an indication that both sides of the issue will think this article is POV? I'm not entirely sure that makes it NPOV... I dunno. I personally see this article as taking an atheists P.O.V of the study/events. Perhaps this is because we don't want to bring religious viewpoints into an article, which would thereby make it religious P.O.V. --RossKoepkeTalk 17:40, 20 July 2005 (UTC)
Added a link to the paragraph in question supporting the religious side, I feel it's more balanced now. I guess it was really the links that bothered me, not so much the content. --RossKoepkeTalk 17:46, 20 July 2005 (UTC)
There may be a serious misunderstanding here as to what POV and NPOV mean. "POV" does not mean that the point of view of a particular group or person is included; we are very much in favor of including attributed opinions and beliefs in articles. It does mean that we do not present a particular opinion as our own, but attribute it, and, where possible, balance it with competing views. The resulting statement should be one which all sides have to concede is factually correct. Is it factually correct that believers have hailed positive results? Yes. Is it factually correct that skeptics have criticized them on various levels? Yes. It is also relevant background information. Hence, the resulting story is NPOV. Jimmy Wales has phrased it thusly: "Of course, 100% agreement is not possible; there are ideologues in the world who will not concede to any presentation other than a forceful statement of their own point of view. We can only seek a type of writing that is agreeable to essentially rational people who may differ on particular points."--Eloquence 17:46, 20 July 2005 (UTC)
 "mortality at 6 months was lower with
MIT therapy than with no MIT therapy
(hazard ratio 0·35 (95% CI 0·15–0·82, p=0·016)."
While the set of patients was evenly split, only
7 patients who received MIT therapy died, while 20
patients died who did not receive it. The result
is not highly significant due to the low overall
number of people who died.
  1. How many people total?
  2. I cant decipher "(hazard ratio 0·35 (95% CI 0·15–0·82, p=0·016)" and neither can anyone else (generalization).
  3. POV on part of study that we report as fact?

--RossKoepkeTalk 17:03, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

See the recently updated version.--Eloquence 17:14, 20 July 2005 (UTC)


Reverted vandalism, but I'm not sure I got it back exactly the way it was.. new here. -- Jeff Burdges

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