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The development and validation of an outcome measure for spiritual healing: A mixed methods study

Bishop, Felicity L., Barlow, Fiona, Walker, Jan, McDermott, Clare and Lewith, George T. (2010) The development and validation of an outcome measure for spiritual healing: A mixed methods study Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 79, (6), pp. 350-362. (doi:10.1159/000320120).

Record type: Article


Background: Spiritual healing, probably the oldest documented paramedical intervention, is a neglected area of research. In order to conduct further research into the effects of healing, a valid and reliable outcome measure is needed that captures the experience of individuals receiving healing (healees) and is not burdensome to complete. We aimed to develop such a measure. Methods: A mixed methods design was used. Focus groups and cognitive interviews were used to generate and refine questionnaire items grounded in the experiences and language of healees (Study 1). The resulting questionnaire was tested and its formal psychometric properties were evaluated (Study 2). Participants were recruited from a spiritual healing sanctuary and via individual healers (including registered spiritual healers, Reiki practitioners, healers affiliated with churches). Results: In Study 1, 24 participants took part in 7 focus groups and 6 cognitive interviews. 29 common effects were identified and grouped into 7 discrete dimensions that appeared to characterize potentially sustainable effects reported by participants following their experiences of spiritual healing. In Study 2, 393 participants returned completed baseline questionnaires, 243 of whom completed the questionnaire again 1–6 weeks later. Exploratory factor analysis generated 5 subscales, based on 20 of the items: outlook, energy, health, relationships and emotional balance. These subscales demonstrated acceptable internal consistency, convergent validity and test-retest reliability. Three of the subscales and the whole questionnaire demonstrated good sensitivity to change. Conclusions: We have produced a psychometrically sound healing impact questionnaire that is acceptable to healees, healers and researchers for use in future evaluations of spiritual healing.

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Published date: October 2010
Keywords: outcome assessment, quality of life, spiritual therapies, qualitative research


Local EPrints ID: 167889
ISSN: 0033-3190
PURE UUID: 2542c943-678c-458d-819b-9323865fb8de
ORCID for Felicity L. Bishop: ORCID iD

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Date deposited: 22 Nov 2010 09:38
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 12:23

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Author: Fiona Barlow
Author: Jan Walker
Author: Clare McDermott
Author: George T. Lewith

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