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To the editor:

A recent letter to the editor suggested that our public officials should no longer rely on belief in prayer but "make rational decisions based on facts and scientific methods." It was also stated that prayer has never been proved to change events in this world.These statements brought to mind a study recently published in the Journal of American Medicine, originally published in the Southern Medical Journal.

In the study, 393 coronary care patients at San Francisco General Medical Center were used as subjects in an experiment to see if prayer made a difference in their health and recovery. Half of the patients were recorded by first name only on a list given to some born-again Christians. These Christians prayed for the patients without ever meeting them.

The other half, the control group, received no prayers by the Christians. The patients and doctors had no knowledge of who was receiving the prayers, so no psychological boost could be argued as the reason for any difference in the results.

The results were intriguing. In the half that was not prayed for, there were 12 who needed tubes inserted for feeding; none was needed for those prayed for. While only two of those who were prayed for needed antibiotics, nine in the control group did. Fifteen percent of the patients not prayed for needed diuretics, only 5 percent of the other half did. In other areas of complications, no differences were noticed between the two groups.

The researching physicians concluded that prayer is a valid source of help for patients. They indicated that faith healing alone is not what they are advocating, but that prayer as a supplement is an appropriate and proven aid.

Lisa Newman

Salt Lake City