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According to a national survey of over 2,000 Americans, more than one-third pray for good health. About 75% of respondents say they pray to prevent illness. Another 22% say they pray to alleviate a medical condition. People with certain health problems, such as back pain, depression, and chronic headaches, were more likely to use prayer than others.
Among those who said they prayed for help with specific medical conditions, 69% report that prayer was very helpful. Adults older than age 33, women, and those with education beyond high school were more likely to use prayer for health reasons.
Researchers say that people who are ill may turn to prayer as a means of coping with and accepting their illness. Yet only about 1 out of 10 people who pray for health reasons mentions it to care providers. Researchers recommend that care providers ask patients in a nonbiased, nonjudgmental way about their spirituality for a more holistic approach to healing.
"Prayer for Health Concerns: Results of a National Survey on Prevalence and Patterns of Use," Archives of Internal Medicine, A. McCaffrey, et al., April 26, 2004.
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