CHO and Research

There is a huge literature about healing that includes large numbers of books and articles from a wide variety of authors and sources.

The amount of formal published research, undertaken by professional academics, is relatively small.  Other forms of complementary and alternative medicine, such as acupuncture have attracted much more attention from the academic community than healing.  However, there are several hundred academic articles on healing.  Studies have been done on the effects of healing on a variety of living systems, from cells in test tubes, to groups of humans. 

The research can be divided into two broad categories.  The first type is investigations of the effectiveness of healing, research that asks the question ‘does it work?’  This includes randomised and non-randomised trials as well as observational studies.  Several attempts have been made to try to bring research on the effectiveness of healing in different contexts together (evidence synthesis) to try to provide a definitive answer to the ‘does it work?’ question, and to deal with the common dismissal that it is all the placebo response.  The second type of research asks questions such as ‘how might it work?’ and ‘how can the healing response be induced?’ and generally involves qualitative methods such as interviews with healers and their clients, or observational work (ethnography).  Many doctors and healers, and their clients, have written powerful stories about healing, and tried to draw general conclusions about the nature of healing intention from their personal experiences.

One of the major problems inherent in the research undertaken on healing to date is the tension between the beliefs of healers, who think that it involves some form of energy channelling or energy transfer, and the mainstream scientific position, which is that such energy does not exist, and that any benefits that might accrue must have another explanation.

The CHO, together with its member organisations is dedicated to advancement of the healing movement.  One route to this goal is through research studies, and the wider dissemination of the existing research data.  The CHO is also keen to help healers themselves get more involved in research.

Please explore our Research Funding page or Apply for Funding.