A randomised controlled trial of Spiritual Healing in restricted neck movement

S. F. Gerard, Blair Hamilton Smith, J. A. Simpson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To investigate the clinical effectiveness of visiting a spiritual healer in restricted neck movement.

Design: Pragmatic randomized controlled trial.

Setting/Location: Spiritual-healing clinic in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Subjects: Sixty-eight (68) volunteers over the age of 18 years with restricted neck movement not currently receiving spiritual healing.

Intervention: Three weekly sessions of spiritual healing treatment lasting approximately 30 minutes each. Control group received normal care (no spiritual healing).

Outcome measures: Range of neck movement in three directions. Visual analog scales of pain and overall well-being, Short Form 36 (SF-36) Health Survey general health questionnaire, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, and Chronic Pain Grade were also measured.

Results: After treatment, the change from baseline in rotation and flexion-extension was significantly greater in the treatment group compared to the control group (mean standard deviation [SD]: 26.3 degrees (21.0 degrees) versus 2.1 degrees (15.1 degrees), p < 0.001 and 20.7 degrees (23.0 degrees) versus -0.03 degrees (15.2 degrees), p <0.001, respectively). Subjects from the treatment group were also observed to have reduced their pain severity scores after 3 weeks of treatment compared to those of the control group (median change from baseline [range], -2.25 [-8, 2] versus 0 (-6, 4), p = 0.03). For SF-36, the treatment group had significantly improved their scores more than the control group for physical function and energy and vitality. There was a shift in the treatment group toward milder chronic pain grades but this was not significant. There were no significant differences between treatment and control groups in the other outcome measures.

Conclusion: This study tentatively supports the effectiveness of visiting a spiritual healer in restricted neck movement. However, larger studies over longer periods, with placebo interventions, are required for corroboration and to gauge the scale of treatment effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-478
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • chronic pain
  • complementary medicine
  • questionnaire
  • therapies
  • efficacy
  • SF-36

Cite this