Intercessory prayer, visualization, and expectancy for patients with severe illnesses: Implications for psychotherapy

  • Conti J
  • Matthews W
  • Sireci S
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The purpose of this study was to explore the effect of intercessory prayer, positive visualization, and outcome expectancy on a wide range of medical and psychological measures for critically ill patients. Ninety-five adult male and female volunteer hemodialysis subjects with end-stage renal disease were randomly assigned to a 2 X 3 (expectancy X treatment) factorial design. Ten medical and 10 psychological measures were used to assess the subjects' overall well-being. The results indicated that more subjects who expected to receive intercessory prayer reported feeling significantly better than did the subjects who expected to receive positive visualization. Subjects who expected to receive positive visualization indicated a small effect size, also in favor of expectancy theory. No other statistically significant main effects or interactions were found for expectancy, intercessory prayer, or positive visualization on the remaining dependent measures. Analysis of effect sizes on all dependent measures failed to indicate even a small magnitude of effect for intercessory prayer as contrasted with expectancy on the medical or psychological variables. The effects of intercessory prayer and transpersonal positive visualization cannot be distinguished from the effect of expectancy.

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  • James M. Conti

  • William J. Matthews

  • Stephen G. Sireci

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