Physical Health: The Prayer Factor

Medical researchers are taking a serious look at the role that faith appears to play in healing.
4:31 | 07/30/13

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Transcript for Physical Health: The Prayer Factor
We cannot pinpoint precisely when man began trying to figure out the relationship between his physical health and his state of mind but. What we have found compelling of -- -- the serious way that the medical establishment is beginning to take effect of faith on people's health. Our religion reporter -- way -- tonight on science and the soul the American agenda. Yeah he's happy. Nodding as I'm here. Modern medicine has placed tremendous value on the power of technology to cure this seriously ill I had my head on -- Then they also play a critical role in healing -- hear the prayers of your people. -- Yes -- Regan credits his -- are remarkable recovery from a liver disease that killed his younger brother and almost took his own life. He's done an excellent I have very few patients who are doing is lawsuits -- and. -- believes god pulled him through god played a major role. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- in -- to keep going keep going keep going. According to an ABC news poll this is a view shared by most Americans. Almost 80% say they -- when -- -- And the majority of analysts believe god helps heal them. Former surgeon general C Everett coop I have seen this in my practice I've seen people of faith make these claims I've seen them do well all of my -- -- doesn't think hospital chaplains have traditionally addressed the spiritual lives -- patient. But now medical researchers are taking a serious look. The important role that faith appears to play in -- patients who have strong religious beliefs live longer. Harvard university medical school recently sponsored a groundbreaking symposium on the subject. And Dartmouth medical center has released one of the most dramatic studies on religion and health. Psychiatrist Thomas oxman that should be effective -- on the number one killer of Americans heart disease could. Oxman -- 232. Patients. Before and after -- cardiac surgery. People who. Had absolutely no strength and comfort from their religion were three times more likely to die within six months after surgery. Hi -- the statement. Hospital administrator Phyllis Davis one of the patients in oxman study. Believes her faith saved her life. I just prayed that god would take care and he did. -- truly believe that and I believe he healed me a person who has a strong faith has hope. And hope gives them a sense of peace. Doctor Harold Koenig of duke university medical school has been researching the effect of religion on the health of the elderly for ten years the most important thing the most important -- -- church is that he says the peace of mind that faith provides reduces anxiety. That can help to keep your blood pressure low help to prevent -- coronary arteries from going into spasm. Help your body in general to function and to fight off illnesses. Do you pray every day. Koenig has asked hundreds of patients how their faith in god enables them to cope with illness how does it help if there on an end -- around. I'm traveling as we mean he has -- not problem. -- says that may well be true but all he can prove is that belief in god helps fight off depression and anxiety. And that prevents the release of hormones destructive to the immune system. We cannot prove whether or not god exists or whether he doesn't exist. All we can say is that what are the effects of believing in god what effect does that have on your health and we think it helps your health. Because the -- doing Koenig and other doctors say it's time to train medical students to look be -- impatient physical condition and into their soul. Which may provide an extra resource for recovery. Good doctors use anything that will bring about in their minds the rapid healing of their -- problems. And if a patient has faith it just makes very good sense to capitalize on that. Not only good sent but the scientific evidence now suggests. Good medicine. We pray that you would -- -- to give gray -- and healing. According to his deepest needs of body mind and spirit. This is -- -- Meyer for the American agenda.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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