Noncontact healing: What does the research tell us?

Chris A Roe, Charmaine Sonnex, Elizabeth C Roxburgh

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticle


Introduction: Reviews of empirical work on the efficacy of noncontact healing have found that adopting various practices that incorporate an intention to heal can have some positive effect upon the recipient's wellbeing. We proposed to address this by reviewing healing studies that involved biological systems other than ‘whole’ humans (e.g., studies of plants or cell cultures) that were less susceptible to placebo-like effects. Secondly, doubts have been cast concerning the legitimacy of some of the work included in previous reviews so we planned to conduct an updated review that excluded that work.


Data Sources – Both psychological and medical databases were searched

Study Selection – Only studies in English were eligible for inclusion. All studies must have examined the effects upon a biological system of the explicit intention to improve the wellbeing of that target.

Results: The combined weighted effect size for non-whole human studies yielded a highly significant r of .258. Whole human studies yielded a small but significant effect size of r = .203. Results were heterogeneous and correlated with study quality; however the effect size remained significant in both groups after controlling for study quality.

Conclusions: Results suggest that subjects in the active condition exhibit a significant improvement in wellbeing relative to control subjects under circumstances that do not seem to be susceptible to placebo and expectancy effects. Both databases show problems with heterogeneity and with study quality and recommendations are made for necessary standards for future replication attempts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687
Number of pages1
JournalEuropean Journal of Integral Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Dec 2015


  • Healing
  • distance healing
  • intercessory prayer
  • johrei
  • meta-analysis
  • parapsychology
  • placebo
  • reiki
  • spiritual healing
  • therapeutic touch
  • transpersonal psychology


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