The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has grown significantly in recent years, with prayer being one of the most commonly used therapies within the CAM realm. Prayer as a form of CAM has become popular due to its incorporation into individuals’ culture, beliefs, and religion (Favlo, 2011). In fact, one study found that prayer was used by over 60% of the individuals surveyed (Favlo, 2011). When prayer is included in the definition of CAM, reported use of CAM increases dramatically, potentially even doubling (Ernst, 2015).
Examining the specific use of prayer within CAM, it is important to note that prayer can take various forms. For many individuals, prayer is categorized into aspects such as yoga and spiritual healing (Ernst, 2015). According to a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prayer for health reasons was found to be the most widely used CAM therapy. Specifically, 43% of individuals used prayer for their own health, 24% used prayer for the health of others, and 10% participated in prayer groups for their own health (CDC, 2009).
In the United States, CAM usage is prevalent, with 36% of adults reporting use of some form of CAM (CDC, 2009). When including mega-vitamin therapy and prayer specifically for health reasons in the definition of CAM, the percentage of adults using CAM rises to 64% (CDC, 2009). It is worth noting that women and black individuals have been found to have significantly higher odds of using CAM with prayer compared to other demographic groups (Robles et al., 2017).
The growing popularity of prayer as a form of CAM raises important questions and considerations. While prayer may provide comfort, support, and spiritual well-being for individuals, it is essential to critically examine its efficacy and potential risks. In the field of CAM, misconceptions and misunderstandings are common (Ernst, 2015). It is crucial to approach the use of prayer in the context of CAM with scientific rigor, recognizing the need for empirical evidence and proper evaluation.
Moreover, the integration of prayer into healthcare settings raises ethical considerations. Healthcare providers must strike a balance between respecting patients’ religious beliefs and providing evidence-based care. It is important to ensure that patients receive appropriate information about the potential benefits and limitations of prayer as a form of CAM, as well as the availability of other evidence-based treatment options.
In summary, the use of prayer as a form of CAM has gained popularity in recent years. Incorporating spiritual and religious beliefs into healthcare is a significant aspect of many individuals’ lives. However, it is crucial to approach the use of prayer in the context of CAM with critical thinking and scientific inquiry. Research and evaluation are necessary to determine the efficacy, safety, and limitations of prayer as a therapeutic intervention. Healthcare providers must navigate the ethical complexities of integrating prayer into patient care while ensuring the provision of evidence-based practices. By acknowledging the growing popularity of prayer as a form of CAM and addressing the associated challenges, healthcare professionals can provide informed and patient-centered care.