PainReligion/ Spirituality

Trends in the use of prayer for health concerns

Researchers in Massachusetts and Virginia updated changes in this coping tool between 2002 and 2007.

First, the details.

  • Data are from the US Alternative Medicine Supplement of the National Health Interview Survey.
  • Prayer was categorized into 3 groups.
    • Never prayed
    • Prayed in the past 12 months
    • Did not pray in the past 12 months

And, the results.

  • Recent use (within 12 months) of prayer for health concerns significantly increased from 43% in 2002 to 49% in 2007.
  • After adjusting for demographic, socioeconomic status, health status, and lifestyle behaviors, prayer use was more likely in 2007 than 2002.
  • Over time, individuals reporting dental pain were significantly more likely to use prayer to cope compared with those with no pain.
  • Other predictors of prayer, including gender, race, psychological distress, changing health status, and functional limitations, remained consistent across the time of the survey.

The bottom line?

Overall, prayer use for health concerns increased between 2001 and 2007.

The authors concluded, “The escalating positive association between pain and prayer use for health concerns over time suggests that it is critical for mental and physical health treatment providers to be aware of the prevalence of this coping resource.”

5/25/11 21:7 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.