There is a robust body of research on various forms of healing from around the world. Some of the studies are published in medical and nursing journals, others are available as masters and doctoral dissertations. Daniel J. Benor, MD is a pioneer in compiling published research studies and exploring their implications in his series of books: Healing Research: Volumes I-IV. (See this and other references, below.) 

Landmark studies

Byrd, Randolph C. Positive therapeutic effects of intercessory prayer in a coronary care population, Southern Med J 1988, 81(7), 826-829.

Harris, William S. et al, A randomized, controlled trial of the effects of remote, intercessory prayer on outcomes in patients admitted to the coronary care unit, Arch Int Med 1999, 159(19), 2273-2278

Sicher, Fred/ Targ, Elisabeth/ Moore, Dan/ Smith, Helene S. A randomized, double-blind study of the effects of distant healing in a population with advanced AIDS, West J Med 1998, 169(6), 356-363.

Krieger, Dolores, Therapeutic Touch: the imprimatur of nursing, American Journal of Nursing 1975, 7, 784-787; and in The relationship of touch, with intent to help or to heal, to subjects’ in-vivo hemoglobin values, In: American Nurses’ Association 9th Nursing Research Conference, San Antonio, TX 1973 Kansas City, MO: American Nurses’ Association 1974, 39-58.

Grad, Bernard R. Some biological effects of laying-on of hands: a review of experiments with animals and plants, Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research 1965(a), 59, 95-127 (Also reproduced In:

Schmeidler, Gertrude (Ed.) Parapsychology: Its Relation to Physics, Biology, Psychology and Psychiatry, Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow 1976).

Grad, B./ Cadoret, R./ Paul, G. I. The influence of an unorthodox, method of treatment on wound healing in mice, International Journal of Parapsychology 1961, 3, 5-24.

Solfvin, Gerald F. Psi expectancy effects in psychic healing studies with malarial mice, European Journal of Parapsychology 1982(a), 4(2), 160-197.

Wells, Roger/ Watkins, Graham, Linger effects in several PK experiments, In: Morris, J. D./ Roll, W. G./ Morris, R. L. (Eds) Research in Parapsychology 1974, Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow 1975, 143-147.

Lists of publishes studies, including randomized controlled trials, qualitative studies and meta-analyses are available at 

Recent studies
O’Mathuna, D.P. (2000). Evidence-based practice and reviews of therapeutic touch. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, Third quarter, 279-285.
Considers ways in which research can be presented in order to make decisions about therapies and practices, with a critical analysis of some of the reported findings in the literature to date.

Wilkinson, D., Knox, P., Chatman, J., Johnson, T., Barbour, N., Myles, Y., & Reel, A. (2002). The clinical effectiveness of Healing Touch. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 8(1), 33-47. 
Healing Touch’s effect on immune function was explored using a repeated measures design with 22 individuals who were randomized to no treatment, standard HT, and HT plus music (HT+) Outcome measures were secretory IgA (sIgA) and self-reports of stress, perceptions of health enhancement, and qualitative questionnaires. The results indicated a significant interaction effect of the treatment stage and the practitioner training level (p<0.021) Stress rating (using a scale of 1-10) was reduced after treatment for both HT and HT+ (p<.000). SIgA also changed significantly in the HT group. In the qualitative analysis relaxation was the most prominent theme and 53% reported pain relief with one having a dramatic reduction in chronic pain experience. Placebo effect was evaluated by including predictor questions. The overall treatment responders did not differ from the non-responders on placebo scores (p=< 0.417)

Woods, D.L. & Dimond, M. (2002). The effect of therapeutic touch on agitated behavior and cortisol in persons with Alzheimer’s disease. Biological Research for Nursing, 4(2), 104-114. 
Found salivary and urine cortisol levels had a decreasing trend over time with 10 patients with Alzheimer’s, which correlated with a significant decrease in overall agitated behavior.

Meta-analyses of healing studies
Abbot, Neil C, Healing as a therapy for human disease: a systematic review, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 2000, 6(2), 159-169. 
59 RCTs; Small sample sizes in the 15 studies in the dissertations and pilot group may have contributed to the lack of significant effects in 11 of them.

Astin, John A/ Harkness, Elaine/ Ernst, Edzard, The efficacy of "distant healing": a systematic review of randomized trials, Annals of Internal Medicine 2000, 132, 903-910. 
23 studies: 5 with prayer healing, 11 with non-contact Therapeutic Touch, and 7 miscellaneous distant healing approaches. A positive effect was found in 57 percent of these.
For the 16 trials with double blinds, average effect size 0.40 (p < .001). For 10 TT studies meeting selection criteria, average effect size 0.63 (p < .003). For prayer studies effect size 0.25 (p < .009). For "other" studies average effect size 0.38 (p < .073).

Braud, William and Schlitz, Marilyn. A methodology for the objective study of transpersonal imagery, Journal of Scientific Exploration 1989, 3(1), 43-63. 
Electrodermal activity (EDA) – 323 sessions with 4 experimenters, 62 influencers and 271 subjects. Of the 15 studies, 6, (40 per cent) produced significant results. Of the 323 sessions, 57 percent were successful (p = .000023).

Jonas, Wayne B and Crawford, Cindy C. Science and spiritual healing: a critical review of spritual healing, “energy” medicine, and intentionality, Alternative Therapies (Supp) 2003, 9(3), A56-71. Meta-analyses for: 
Intercessory or healing prayer - Of 13 randomized studies, 46% statistically significant effects, mean effect size across trials of .30. Quality of research judged "fair." (Reviewer John Astin)
“ Energy” healing approaches - Of 19 RCTs (all but one on TT) 58% statistically significant, mean effect size .60. Quality judged "poor to fair." (Reviewers Sarah Warber, et al)
Therapeutic qigong - Of 58 studies, almost all reported positive results. Quality of research judged "poor." (Reviewer Juliann Kiang)
Electrodermal Activity - Of 24 studies, 37.5% significant results. Quality of research judged "fair to good." (Reviewer Stefan Schmidt)

Peters, R. (1999). The effectiveness of therapeutic touch: A meta-analytic review. Nursing Science Quarterly, 12(1), 52-61.
Nine studies of the 36 studies identified that were empirically based research studies were used. Therapeutic touch was found to have a positive, medium effect on physiological and psychological variables.

Schlitz, Marilyn/ Braud, William, Distant intentionality and healing: assessing the evidence, Alternative Therapies 1997, 3(6), 62-73. 
19 experiments where one person sought to influence another's electrodermal activity (EDA) (p < .0000007).

Winstead-Fry, Patricia/ Kijek, Jean, An integrative review and meta-analysis of Therapeutic Touch research, Alternative Therapies 1999, 5(6) 59-67. 
Of 29 dissertations and studies addressing efficacy, 19 showed at least partial support for the research hypothesis. The other 10 rejected the hypotheses. Deficiencies in reporting details of the studies make it very difficult to compare studies. A moderate combined effect size was found (0.39) in the 13 studies that included means and standard deviations for treatment and control groups (p < .001).

Benor, Daniel J, Healing Research: Volume I, Spiritual Healing: Scientific Validation of a Healing Revolution, Southfield, MI: Vision Publications, 2001. (Also available as Professional Supplement) 

Healing Touch International, Inc. Research Survey.  for overview. or  to purchase a copy.

Jonas, Wane B. and Chez, Ronald, Alternative Therapies Supplement: Definitions and Standards in Healing Research 2003

Therapeutic Touch 2000-2001 Bibliography. Nurse Healers-Professional Associates Inc, or .

WHOLISTIC HEALING RESEARCH WEBSITE Research in spiritual awareness and healing, extensive healing studies references, books, articles, links, moderator, Daniel J Benor, 

These resources compiled by:

Diane Wind Wardell, PhD, RNC, CHTI
Research Director for Healing Touch International
Associate Professor of Nursing
The University of Texas Houston

Daniel J. Benor, MD
Coordinator, The Council for Healing
Editor, International J of Healing and Caring - On line

Popular References
Broughton, R. S. (1991). Parapsychology: The controversial science. New York: Ballantine Books.
Irwin, H. J. (1999). Introduction to parapsychology (3rd Ed.). Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

Radin, D. I. (1997). The conscious universe: The scientific truth of psychic phenomena. New York: Harper Collins.Technical References

Benor, D. J. (2002). Spiritual healing: Scientific validation of a healing revolution. Professional supplement. Southfield, MI: Vision Publications.

Braud, W. G. (1990). Distant mental influence of rate of hemolysis of human red blood cells. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 84, 1-24.

Honorton, C., Ferrari, D. C., & Bem, D. J. (1998). Extraversion and ESP performance: A meta-analysis and a new confirmation. Journal of Parapsychology, 62, 255-276.

Lawrence, T. R. (1993). Gathering in the sheep and the goats: a meta-analysis of forced choice sheep-goat ESP studies. Proceedings of the Parapsychological Association 36th Annual Convention, Toronto, 75-86.

Palmer, J. (1997). The challenge of experimenter psi. European Journal of Parapsychology, 13, 110-125.

Palmer, J., & Carpenter, J. C. (1998). Comments on the extraversion-ESP meta-analysis by Honorton, Ferrari, and Bem. Journal of Parapsychology, 62, 277-282.

May, E. C., Utts, J. M., & Spottiswoode, S, J. P. (1995). Decision augmentation theory: Toward a model of anomalous mental phenomena. Journal of Parapsychology, 59, 195-220.

Schlitz, M. J., & Braud, W. G. (1997). Distant intentionality and healing: Assessing the evidence. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 3, 62-73.

Sicher, F., Targ, E., Moore, D., & Smith, H. S. (1998). A randomized, double-blind study of the effects of distant healing in a population with advanced AIDS. Western Journal of Medicine, 169, 356-363.

Watkins, G. K., & Watkins, A. M. (1971). Possible PK influence on the resuscitation of anesthetized mice. Journal of Parapsychology, 35, 257-272.

Wells, R., & Watkins, G. (1975). Linger effects in several PK experiments. In J. D. Morris, W. G. Roll, & R. L. Morris (Eds.), Research in parapsychology 1974 (pp.50-53). Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press.

John Palmer, Ph.D.
Director of Research, Rhine Research Center
2741 Campus Walk Ave., Bldg. 500, Durham, NC 27705
Phone: (919) 688-8241, x210 / Fax: (919) 683-4338

Challenges to traditional Randomized Clinical Trial (RCT) in CAM research
Ai, A. L., Peterson, C., Gillespie S. F., Jessup, M. G., Bolling, A., Jessup, M. G.,

Behling, B. S. & Pierce, F. (2001). Designing clinical trials on energy healing: Ancient art encounters medical science. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 7, 83-90.

Ernst, E. (2001) What We Do, What We Should Do, and What We Should Not Do. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 7, 36-39.

Feinglass, J., Yarnold, P. R., McCarthy, W. J., & Martin, G. J. (1998). A classification tree analysis of selection for discretionary treatment. Medical Care, 36(5), 740-747.

Kiene, H. (1996). A Critique of the Double Blind Clinical Trial, Part 1. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 2(1), 174-180.

Kiene, H. (1996). A Critique of the Double Blind Clinical Trial, Part 2. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 2(2), 59-64.

Lewith, G. T., Jonas, W. B., & Walach, H. (2002). Clinical Research in Complementary Therapies Principles, Problems & Solutions. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders.

Mueser, K. T., Yarnold, P. R., & Foy, D. W. (1991). Statistical analysis for single-case designs. Behavior Modification 15(2), 134-155.

Quayhagen, Q. P., Quayhagen, M, Corbeil, R. R., Roth, P. A., & Rodgers, J. A. (1995). A

Dynamic remediation program for care recipients with dementia. Nursing Research, 44(3), 153-159. (Interrupted time series)

Shadish, W. R., Cook, T. D., & Campbell, D. T. (2002). Experimental and Quasi-experimental Designs for Generalized Causal Inference. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co

Whitney, J. D., Stotts, N. A., & Goodson, W. H. (1995). Effects of dynamic exercise on subcutaneous oxygen tension and temperature. Research in Nursing and Health, 18(2), 97-104

Woods, D. L. & Dimond, M. (2002). The effect of therapeutic touch on agitated behavior and cortisol in persons with AlzheimerÕs Disease. Biological Research for Nursing, 4(2), 104-114.

Yarnold, P.. R., Feinglass, J., McCarthy, W. J., & Martin, G. J. (1999). Comparing three pre-processing strategies for longitudinal data. Evaluation & the Health Professions, 22, 245-277.

Pat Winstead-Fry, R. N., Ph.D.
CAM Nursing Research
2708 Herrick Brook Road
Pawlet, VT 05761
phone: 802-325-3579
fax: 802-325-2104


Web Sites

Research in wholistic spiritual awareness and healing, extensive experiment citations, books articles, links lectures and workshops. Moderator Daniel J. Benor.

Future plans

The Research Advisory Board of the Council for Healing is available for consultation for individuals and organizations wishing to do research in this field. We can provide ideas of appropriate research questions, models, methodology and analysis. .