Aim: To update our published systematic review of clinical trials of distant healing.
Design: Systematic review.
Data sources: Medline, Embase, Cochrane Library and personal files.
Study selection: Any type of clinical study of any type of distant healing published between 2000 and December 2002.
Data extraction: For each included study, essential data were extracted and summarised in narrative form.
Results: 8 non-randomised and 9 randomised clinical trials were located. The majority of the rigorous trials do not to support the hypothesis that distant healing has specific therapeutic effects. The results of two studies furthermore suggest that distant healing can be associated with adverse effects.
Conclusion: Since the publication of our previous systematic review in 2000, several rigorous new studies have emerged. Collectively they shift the weight of the evidence against the notion that distant healing is more than a placebo.