About GMRI

The Global Medical Research Institute (GMRI) seeks to apply the rigorous methods of evidence-based medicine to study Christian Spiritual Healing (CSH) practices.

Christian Spiritual Healing (CSH)—prayer to God in the name of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit—is a commonly practiced form of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Public opinion polls show that most people, including a majority of U.S. medical doctors, believe in the healing power of prayer. Conservative Christian groups, such as Pentecostals and Charismatics, are growing globally because members often pray for healing, and those receiving prayer often perceive these prayers to be effective. Even people who are not otherwise religious pray for healing—or accept healing prayer from Christian intercessors—because they assume that prayer cannot hurt, and it just might help.

What happens when people pray for healing? Are there measurable health effects? If so, are the effects positive, negative, or neutral? Can some or all of these effects be attributed to a placebo effect? If so, what exactly are the limits of placebo effects, and how effective is prayer relative to known placebos?

Some recent studies have suggested that prayer for healing may indirectly produce negative health effects, whereas other studies have reported physical and emotional benefits. Although researchers have focused almost exclusively on distant intercessory prayer, recent research suggests that proximal intercessory prayer (PIP)—in-person, direct-contact prayer, frequently involving touch, by one or more persons on behalf of another—may be practiced more widely—and may be more efficacious. Consumers, healthcare providers, and policymakers all have an interest in learning about the experiences and effects of commonly employed CSH practices.

The overall goal of GMRI is to promote an empirically grounded understanding of the physiological, emotional, and sociological effects of Christian Spiritual Healing (CSH) practices. To this end, we seek to apply the same standards of empirical research to the investigation of CSH practices as are commonly applied to the study of other conventional and alternative medical and cultural practices.

The Institute also seeks to encourage and support the publishing of this research in peer-reviewed journals, and to communicate the empirical findings to physicians, medical students, and other health care providers.