Two meta-analyses of noncontact healing studies

Journal article


Roe, C. A., Sonnex, C. and Roxburgh, E. 2015. Two meta-analyses of noncontact healing studies. Explore. 11 (1), pp. 11-23. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.explore.2014.10.001
AuthorsRoe, C. A., Sonnex, C. and Roxburgh, E.
Abstract

Reviews of empirical work on the efficacy of noncontact healing have found that interceding on behalf of patients through prayer or by adopting various practices that incorporate an intention to heal can have some positive effect upon their wellbeing. However, reviewers have also raised concerns about study quality and the diversity of healing approaches adopted, which makes the findings difficult to interpret. Some of these concerns can be addressed by adopting a standardised approach based on the double-blind randomised controlled clinical trial, and a recent review restricted to such studies has reported a combined effect size of .40 (p < .001). However, the studies in this review involve human participants for whom there can be no guarantee that control patients are not beneficiaries of healing intentions from friends, family or their own religious groups. We proposed to address this by reviewing healing studies that involved biological systems other than 'whole' humans (i.e. to include animal and plant work but also work involving human biological matter such as blood samples or cell cultures), which are less susceptible to placebo and expectancy effects and also allow for more circumscribed outcome measures. Secondly, doubts have been cast concerning the legitimacy of some of the work included in previous reviews so we planned to conduct an updated review that excluded that work. For phase 1, 49 non-whole human studies from 34 papers were eligible for review. The combined effect size weighted by sample size yielded a highly significant r of .258. However the effect sizes in the database were heterogeneous, and outcomes correlated with blind ratings of study quality. When restricted to studies that met minimum quality thresholds, the remaining 22 studies gave a reduced but still significant weighted r of .115. For phase 2, 57 whole human studies across 56 papers were eligible for review. When combined, these studies yielded a small effect size of r = .203 that was also significant. This database was also heterogeneous, and outcomes were correlated with methodological quality ratings. However, when restricted to studies that met threshold quality levels the weighted effect size for the 27 surviving studies increased to r = .224. Taken together these results suggest that subjects in the active condition exhibit a significant improvement in wellbeing relative to control subjects under circumstances that do not seem to be susceptible to placebo and expectancy effects. Findings with the whole human database gave a smaller mean effect size but this was still significant and suggests that the effect is not dependent upon the previous inclusion of suspect studies and is robust enough to accommodate some high profile failures to replicate. Both databases show problems with heterogeneity and with study quality and recommendations are made for necessary standards for future replication attempts.

KeywordsNon contact healing; Psychology; Prayer
Year2015
JournalExplore
Journal citation11 (1), pp. 11-23
PublisherElsevier
ISSN1550-8307
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.explore.2014.10.001
Official URLhttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.explore.2014.10.001
Related URLhttp://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/34616/
Publication dates
Online23 Oct 2014
Publication process dates
Deposited24 Jan 2020
Accepted author manuscript
Output statusPublished
Permalink -

https://repository.canterbury.ac.uk/item/8qq2q/two-meta-analyses-of-noncontact-healing-studies

Download files

Accepted author manuscript
  • 24
    total views
  • 0
    total downloads
  • 1
    views this month
  • 0
    downloads this month

Export as

Related outputs

Flow, liminality, and eudaimonia: Pagan ritual practice as a gateway to a life with meaning
Sonnex, C., Roe, C. and Roxburgh, E. C. 2020. Flow, liminality, and eudaimonia: Pagan ritual practice as a gateway to a life with meaning. Journal of Humanistic Psychology.
Testing the pagan prescription: using a randomised controlled trial to investigate pagan spell casting as a form of noncontact healing
Sonnex, C., Roe, C. A. and Roxburgh, E. C. 2020. Testing the pagan prescription: using a randomised controlled trial to investigate pagan spell casting as a form of noncontact healing. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2019.0279
Therianthropy: well-being, schizotypy and autism in individuals who self- identify as non-human
Clegg, H., Collings, R. and Roxburgh, E. 2019. Therianthropy: well-being, schizotypy and autism in individuals who self- identify as non-human. Society & Animals. 27 (4), pp. 403-426. https://doi.org/10.1163/15685306-12341540
'Most people think you're a fruit loop': clients' experiences of seeking support for anomalous experiences
Roxburgh, E. and Evenden, R.E. 'Most people think you're a fruit loop': clients' experiences of seeking support for anomalous experiences. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research. 16 (3), pp. 211-221. https://doi.org/10.1002/capr.12077
Clinical parapsychology: counselling experiences of clients who report anomalous experiences and the training needs of therapists
Roxburgh, E. and Evenden, R. 2016. Clinical parapsychology: counselling experiences of clients who report anomalous experiences and the training needs of therapists.
"They daren't tell people": therapists' experiences of working with clients who report anomalous experiences
Roxburgh, E. 2016. "They daren't tell people": therapists' experiences of working with clients who report anomalous experiences.
Latest research on anomalous experience
Roxburgh, E. 2016. Latest research on anomalous experience.
'They daren’t tell people': therapists' experiences of working with clients who report anomalous experiences
Roxburgh, E. and Evenden, R. E. 2016. 'They daren’t tell people': therapists' experiences of working with clients who report anomalous experiences. European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling. 18 (2), pp. 123-141. https://doi.org/10.1080/13642537.2016.1170059
'It's about having exposure to this': investigating the training needs of therapists in relation to the issue of anomalous experiences
Roxburgh, E. and Evenden, R. E. 2016. 'It's about having exposure to this': investigating the training needs of therapists in relation to the issue of anomalous experiences. 4 (5), pp. 540-549. https://doi.org/10.1080/03069885.2016.1213375
Magical flow: comparing the flow experience to the ASC of pagan magical ritual work
Sonnex, C., Roe, C. A. and Roxburgh, E. 2015. Magical flow: comparing the flow experience to the ASC of pagan magical ritual work.
Noncontact healing: what does the research tell us?
Sonnex, C., Roe, C. A. and Roxburgh, E. 2015. Noncontact healing: what does the research tell us?
Combining qualitative and quantitative approaches to investigate anomalous experiences
Roxburgh, E. and Evenden, R. 2015. Combining qualitative and quantitative approaches to investigate anomalous experiences.
A transpersonal exploration of epilepsy and its numinous, cosmic states
King, L., Roe, C. A. and Roxburgh, E. 2015. A transpersonal exploration of epilepsy and its numinous, cosmic states.
Testing the pagan prescription: using a randomised controlled trial to investigate pagan spell casting as a form of distant healing
Roxburgh, E. and Evenden, R. 2015. Testing the pagan prescription: using a randomised controlled trial to investigate pagan spell casting as a form of distant healing.
"Most people think you're a fruit loop": an exploratory study of clients' experiences of seeking support for anomalous experiences
Roxburgh, E. and Evenden, R. 2015. "Most people think you're a fruit loop": an exploratory study of clients' experiences of seeking support for anomalous experiences.
Investigating pagan healing spells
Sonnex, C., Roe, C. A. and Roxburgh, E. 2015. Investigating pagan healing spells.
The dreamy state: an autoethnography of spritual meaning in epilepsy
King, L., Roxburgh, E. and Roe, C. A. 2015. The dreamy state: an autoethnography of spritual meaning in epilepsy.
"Most people think you're a fruit loop": an exploratory study of clients' experiences of seeking support for anomalous experiences
Roxburgh, E. and Evenden, R. 2015. "Most people think you're a fruit loop": an exploratory study of clients' experiences of seeking support for anomalous experiences.
"Most people think you're a fruit loop": an exploratory study of clients' experiences of seeking support for anomalous experiences
Roxburgh, E. and Evenden, R. 2015. "Most people think you're a fruit loop": an exploratory study of clients' experiences of seeking support for anomalous experiences.
"Most people think you're a fruit loop": an exploratory study of clients' experiences of seeking support for anomalous experiences
Roxburgh, E. and Evenden, R. 2015. "Most people think you're a fruit loop": an exploratory study of clients' experiences of seeking support for anomalous experiences.
Exploring the meaning in meaningful coincidences: an interpretative phenomenological analysis of synchronicity in therapy
Roxburgh, E., Ridgway, S. and Roe, C. A. 2015. Exploring the meaning in meaningful coincidences: an interpretative phenomenological analysis of synchronicity in therapy. European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling. 17 (2), pp. 144-161. https://doi.org/10.1080/13642537.2015.1027784
Synchronicity in the therapeutic setting: a survey of practitioners
Roxburgh, E., Ridgway, S. and Roe, C. A. 2015. Synchronicity in the therapeutic setting: a survey of practitioners. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research. 16 (1), pp. 44-53. https://doi.org/10.1002/capr.12057
Pagan spellcasting: discovering the homogenous among the heterogenous
Sonnex, C., Roe, C. A. and Roxburgh, E. 2014. Pagan spellcasting: discovering the homogenous among the heterogenous.
Reframing voices and visions using a spiritual model: an interpretive phenomenological analysis of anomalous experiences in mediumship
Roxburgh, E. and Roe, C. A. 2014. Reframing voices and visions using a spiritual model: an interpretive phenomenological analysis of anomalous experiences in mediumship.
Phantom limbs in the therian community
Clegg, H. and Roxburgh, E. 2014. Phantom limbs in the therian community.
Making magic(k): esential aspects of successful neo-pagan spell work
Sonnex, C., Roe, C. A. and Roxburgh, E. 2014. Making magic(k): esential aspects of successful neo-pagan spell work.
Exploring the meaning in meaningful coincidences
Roxburgh, E. and Ridgeway, S. 2014. Exploring the meaning in meaningful coincidences.
Counselling for anomalous experiences
Roxburgh, E. and Evenden, R. 2014. Counselling for anomalous experiences.
A transpersonal understanding of experience of spirituality in individuals with epilepsy
Roe, C. A. and Roxburgh, E. 2014. A transpersonal understanding of experience of spirituality in individuals with epilepsy.
What can we learn from an exploration of the phenomenology of spiritualist mental mediumship?
Roe, C. A. and Roxburgh, E. 2014. What can we learn from an exploration of the phenomenology of spiritualist mental mediumship?
Synchronicity in the clinical setting
Roxburgh, E. and Ridgway, S. 2014. Synchronicity in the clinical setting.
Paganism in practice: finding the homogeneous within the hetereogeneous
Sonnex, C., Roe, C. A. and Roxburgh, E. 2014. Paganism in practice: finding the homogeneous within the hetereogeneous.
Monkeys' paws, poppets, sheep and goats; or the necessary components of successful spells
Sonnex, C., Roe, C. A. and Roxburgh, E. 2014. Monkeys' paws, poppets, sheep and goats; or the necessary components of successful spells.
Clinical parapsychology in the UK: counselling for anomalous experiences
Roxburgh, E. and Evenden, R. 2014. Clinical parapsychology in the UK: counselling for anomalous experiences.
A mixed methods approach to mediumship research
Roxburgh, E. and Roe, C. A. 2014. A mixed methods approach to mediumship research. in: Rock, A. J. (ed.) The Survival Hypothesis: Essays on Mediumship McFarland & Co.
Non-parapsychological explanations of ostensible mediumship
Roxburgh, E. and Roe, C. A. 2014. Non-parapsychological explanations of ostensible mediumship. in: Rock, A. J. (ed.) The Survival Hypothesis: Essays on Mediumship McFarland & Co. pp. 65-78
An interpretative phenomenological analysis of identity in the therian community
Grivell, T., Clegg, H. and Roxburgh, E. 2014. An interpretative phenomenological analysis of identity in the therian community. Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research. 14 (2), pp. 113-135. https://doi.org/10.1080/15283488.2014.891999
Reframing voices and visions using a spiritual model. An interpretative phenomenological analysis of anomalous experiences in mediumship.
Roxburgh, E. and Roe, C. A. 2014. Reframing voices and visions using a spiritual model. An interpretative phenomenological analysis of anomalous experiences in mediumship. Mental Health, Religion and Culture. 17 (6), pp. 641-653. https://doi.org/10.1080/13674676.2014.894007
The effects of pagan healing practices on health and wellbeing
Sonnex, C., Roe, C. A. and Roxburgh, E. 2013. The effects of pagan healing practices on health and wellbeing.
An overview of cold reading strategies
Roxburgh, E. and Roe, C. A. 2013. An overview of cold reading strategies. in: Moreman, C. M. (ed.) The Spiritualist Movement: Speaking with the Dead in America and Around the World: Volume 2: Evidence and Beliefs California Praeger. pp. 177-203
"Say from whence you owe this strange intelligence": investigating explanatory systems of spiritualist mental mediumship using interpretative phenomenological analysis
Roxburgh, E. and Roe, C. A. 2013. "Say from whence you owe this strange intelligence": investigating explanatory systems of spiritualist mental mediumship using interpretative phenomenological analysis. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. 32 (1), pp. 27-42. https://doi.org/10.24972/ijts.2013.32.1.27
A survey of dissociation, boundary-thinness, and psychological wellbeing in spiritualist mental mediumship
Roxburgh, E. and Roe, C. A. 2011. A survey of dissociation, boundary-thinness, and psychological wellbeing in spiritualist mental mediumship. Journal of Parapsychology. 75 (2), pp. 279-299.