Self-Reported Effects of Energy Healing: A Prospective Observational Study With Pre-Post Design

Explore (NY). Mar-Apr 2019;15(2):115-125. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2018.06.009. Epub 2018 Aug 22.


Introduction: Healing is reported to be used by 16.8% of the population, however utilization may be considerably higher in selected patient groups. The aim of this study was to map the symptoms the participants reported when visiting a healer for the first time, and to evaluate the subjectively experienced benefits and risks from the healing sessions.

Method: Data were obtained from the Measure Yourself Medical Outcome Profile (MYMOP) questionnaire. One-hundred adults who, for the first time, referred themselves to a healer in southern Norway between January 2016 and January 2017 were included in the study. Eligible for analyses were 92 participants who fulfilled their treatment plan and returned both the baseline (pre) and post-treatment questionnaire. The occurring symptoms were grouped according to their nature into four symptom groups: pain, psychological problems, fatigue and other. With regard to the observational character of the study, all results were described and interpreted descriptively and exact p-values were given and interpreted as measures of effect.

Results: The participants who visited the healers in this study were mainly women (80%) with chronic disease (82%), with pain, fatigue and/or psychological problems as main complaints. They experienced an improvement of symptoms, well-being and improved activity level of approximately 50% regardless of the nature of the complaints. Women reported more improvement than men did. The pre-post changes was found after an average of 4.1 treatments. Forty percent of the participants reported adverse effects, which occurred directly after the healing session, generally lasting for less than one day.

Conclusion: The study participants reported substantial improvement of, and major reduction of the burden of symptoms, improved well-being and activity level after healing sessions. Due to the observational nature of the study, no interpretations about specificity of the descriptive results or the mechanisms of effect can be made.

Keywords: Clinical trial; Complementary and alternative medicine; Energy healing; Hands on healing; MYMOP; Norway; Spiritual healing.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease / therapy
  • Fatigue / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mind-Body Therapies / adverse effects
  • Mind-Body Therapies / methods*
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Self Report
  • Surveys and Questionnaires