Page last updated at 09:53 GMT, Friday, 11 September 2009 10:53 UK

Faith healing 'risks recovery'

A traditional faith holder
Faith healing could jeopardise recovery from illness, research by the University of Ulster suggests

A belief in faith healing could jeopardise recovery from illness, according to a new study by a University of Ulster researcher.

Dr Tony Cassidy said he believes that some people who put their trust in faith healing may be less likely to adhere to medical advice.

He will be presenting his research at a British Psychological Society conference in Birmingham.

The Coleraine-based academic's research team questioned 766 people on their belief in and intention to use faith healing.

They were also surveyed about their intention to adhere to medical advice.

"We found that belief and intention to use faith healing was a significant predictor of self-reported non-adherence to a medication," Dr Cassidy said.

"Participants who believed strongly in faith healing were also more likely to say they were less satisfied with their GP.

"Given that only about one-in-three people follow medical advice totally and about one in four put their lives at risk through non-adherence, it's important that health care professionals understand their patients' beliefs about alternative remedies, such as faith healing."

But one Belfast GP, Dr Paul Corry, believes that sometimes the opposite is the case.

"Often patients that do have a faith in God or have had a Christian healing prayer for them, show a better outcome because they are more positive," Dr Corry explained.

"They have hope where maybe they didn't have it before."

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