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When Americans experience health problems, they don’t just rely on doctors and medications. A new study found that most Americans have turned to prayer to heal themselves and others. (CNN)

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The study found that about nine out of 10 Americans have relied on healing prayer at some point in their lives, with most of them praying for other people’s health and well-being more than their own.

“It was very surprising,” said the study’s author, Jeff Levin, professor of epidemiology and population health at Baylor University. “I was expecting that some proportion of the population would be involved in this, but I wasn’t expecting the numbers to be this high.”

The study (PDF) suggests that prayer may be one of the most widely used forms of medical treatment among Americans, rather than just a “fringe activity,” Levin said. However, the study notes that most of those who use prayer for healing do so in conjunction with regular medical care.

The survey, conducted by the Gallup Organization, surveyed 1,714 random Americans via telephone and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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