Spell-Checking: Randomized Controlled Trial of Pagan Spells

Randomized controlled trials of pagan spells are rarely reported in the medical literature. Here is a new addition to the world’s collection:

Testing the Pagan Prescription: Using a Randomized Controlled Trial to Investigate Pagan Spell-Casting as a Form of Noncontact Healing,” Charmaine Sonnex, Chris A. Roe, and Elizabeth C. Roxburgh, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, vol. 26, no. 3, 2020, pp. 219-225. (Thanks to Kristine Danowski for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at the University of Buckingham, the University of Northampton, and Nottingham Trent University, explain:

Pagan spell-casting practices have received little attention from distance healing researchers. This study aims to address this gap in the literature.

Design: This study utilized a randomized, double-blind, delayed intervention design.

Subjects: Forty-four participants (30 females, 14 males) were recruited using snowball sampling (mean age=24.30; range=18–55).

Procedure: Participants were randomly allocated to either Group A or B. Participants made written requests to the practitioner about changes they would like to see in their lives and provided a photograph and personal item to be used during the intervention. Participants attended meetings once a week during which they would take part in a guided body scan meditation before completing a quality-of-life measure. Healing practices were conducted for Group A between weeks 1 and 2 and for Group B between weeks 2 and 3.

Outcome Measure: Well-being was measured using the 26-item WHOQOL-BREF.

Results: Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) showed a significant, positive change in general health from weeks 1 to 4 (F=4.02, p=0.025, η2=0.149). Separate analysis of variances of the four WHOQOL domains showed significant improvements across the study in the physical and psychologic domains only; there was no significant group difference on any of the outcomes….

Conclusions: The aims of this study were to show how recommendations made by Roe et al. might be implemented in subsequent RCT designs that test claims for noncontact healing, and to explore whether claims for the efficacy of Pagan healing practices could be tested within an RCT paradigm. The study described here was successful insofar as it was able to demonstrate that an im- provement in well-being can beproduced within an RCT test of Pagan spell-casting. The fact that these improvements could not be attributed to the healing interventionper se, despite the domains of improvement reflecting participant requests, highlights areas for improvement in future research with Pagan healers.