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Therapeutic Touch: Further Notes, 21/8/2003
In 1994, Linda Rosa RN, Chair of the Questionable Nursing Practices Taskforce of the National Council Against Health Fraud, compiled a thorough review of the TT literature. Presented in her 180-page Survey of Therapeutic Touch "Research," the report presents an abstract of virtually every study done on TT, along with an analysis of the results and the methodological critiques mentioned subsequently by other authors.

Rosa's report states, for example, that when the original "healing" studies were done on plants, there were no controls for heat from the healer's hands which naturally increased enzyme production in the plants, and caused them to grow faster. When appropriate controls were instituted, the healer's effect vanished.

But as Linda Rosa's survey points out, virtually every cardinal sin of research was committed in this severely flawed study. The investigator and her assistant knew which infants were treated with TT and which were treated with mock TT, yet they served as the sole data collectors and the raters of infant behavior! Notably, the unbiased physiologic indicator, the oxygen level in the blood, seemed curiously unimpressed by the TT intervention when compared to the human researchers. Despite its obvious flaws, this study has nurses all over the country waving their hands over critically ill newborns, possibly increasing the infants' stress levels by their bizarre and threatening behavior.

It was 1996 when Linda Rosa's daughter Emily was preparing her fourth-grade science fair entry. She was working on an exhibit with M&Ms that would illustrate the probability of picking out a certain color when one reached blindly into a bowl and plucked one. While she was working out the details, she noticed her mom watching a video on Therapeutic Touch. She said, "I wonder if they can really do that?" Suddenly her science fair project took a different form. After discussing several different possibilities with her mom, Emily decided that instead of having volunteers reach in and grab an M&M, she would invite Therapeutic Touch "healers" to reach through her screen and see whether they could detect which of their hands Emily was holding her hand over. She designed and constructed the screen herself, tested it out on a few school buddies, and then made further modifications to ensure the screen would insulate her from her subjects. She was ready.

"I do hope it's an April fool's joke," stated Dolores Krieger when informed that the official report of Emily Rosa's research was to be published in JAMA on April 1st. She attacked Emily, saying she "completely misunderstood what the nature of basic research is." That's quite an accusation coming from someone who has never been published in a peer-reviewed journal of the stature of JAMA. Editor George Lundberg said JAMA's statisticians "were amazed by its simplicity and by the clarity of its results."

Therapeutic Touch practitioners would like to keep us in similar ignorance about the nature of TT by maintaining its "divine" metaphysical nature. They are attempting to shift their practice into a realm where we can no longer test it. They had been content up until now to base their practice on their presumed ability to detect and manipulate the otherwise undetectable "human energy field." This was supposed to be a simple technique that anyone could learn, one that involved the transfer and balancing of actual physical energy. But then James Randi and Emily Rosa came by and showed us that we can test this claim about their practice, and they found that the practitioners tested were unable to feel the energy field they had previously claimed to be detecting, assessing, manipulating, and correcting. Practitioners are now shifting the TT paradigm into an area they hope we cannot test: the healer's "intentionality," or the use of "intuition" as a diagnostic tool.

Most RNs have taken TT classes because they sincerely desire to help their patients and wish to add another nursing tool to their patient-intervention strategies. They were no doubt led to believe that there was scientific proof of the efficacy of this treatment. But they have been misled. After 25 years of research, there is virtually no evidence for an effect beyond that of a placebo or relaxation response. And as Linda Rosa stated, "We owe our patients more than simply the suggestion that they will improve."

1. Rosa L, Rosa E, Sarner L, Barrett S. A Close Look at Therapeutic Touch. JAMA 279:1005-1010, 1998.

14. Levine M. Quoted in Rosa, Linda: Survey of Therapeutic Touch "Research." National Therapeutic Touch Study Group, 1997.

24. Lundberg GM. As quoted by Linda Rosa RN in a private email to the author, April 1998.

27. Rosa L. Hand to hand combat: What happens when a skeptical nurse takes on pseudo-nursing. Skeptic, 1994.

28. Rosa L. Phone conversation with author, April 1998.

Why Therapeutic Touch Should Be Considered Quackery, 3/2/2008
In 1996, Linda Rosa, R.N., published a critique of all of the studies related to TT she could locate in nursing journals and elsewhere. She concluded: "The more rigorous the research design, the more detailed the statistical analysis, the less evidence that there is any observed—or observable—phenomenon."

TT advocates state that, "Baseline assessment of the energy field is necessary in order to intervene effectively during the TT intervention." At age 9, Rosa's daughter Emily figured out a way to test whether practitioners could detect her alleged "energy field." During the next two years, she tested whether 21 of them could detect one of her hands near theirs if they couldn't see it. Each subject was tested 10 or 20 times.

Rosa L. Survey of Therapeutic Touch "Research." Loveland, Colorado: Front Range Skeptics, 1996.

Rosa L, Rosa E, Sarner L, Barrett S. A Close Look at Therapeutic Touch. JAMA 279:1005-1010, 1998. To obtain a reprint of this article, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the National Therapeutic Touch Study Group, 711 W. 9th St., Loveland, CO 80537.

Therapeutic Touch: Responses to Objections to the JAMA Paper, 2/10/2007
Emily Rosa showing how her apparatus was marked to facilitate placement of her hands (Photo Evi Buckner-Opler)

Proponents of therapeutic touch (TT) postulate that each person has a human energy field (HEF) that can be felt by other people, especially those who intend to do so and have been trained to recognize their perceptions as HEF-related. Emily Rosa's experiment found that 21 TT practitioners could not perceive her "energy field" under conditions where they should have been able to do so if TT theory were valid .

The first portion of this article was published in slightly different format in the September 1998 issue of Skeptic Magazine, which contains additional information about the experiences of the Rosa/Sarner family after the JAMA article was published.

Be Wary of Attachment Therapy, 25/2/2005
Recently, a Utah group lead by Larry Van Bloem, sought to achieve a separate licensure status in the state of Utah for ATs. On hand to speak against the proposal were, the Utah Medical Association, Utah Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, Utah Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, Utah Psychology Association, National Association for Consumer Protection in Mental Health Practices, American Association for the Humane Treatment of Children in Therapy (now called Advocates for Children in Therapy), and a psychiatrist who read the APA policy against holding therapy. The proponents withdrew their request after seeing the array of organizations there to oppose them. (Rosa, 2003) Utah has also considered legislation to ban the use of restraint practices as psychotherapy. Mainstream mental health organizations have criticized AT, but have expressed concern about states attempting to legislate something that only trained professionals can speak to. And so, the horror continues.

Mercer, J., Sarner, L., & Rosa, L. (2003). Attachment Therapy on Trial: The Torture and Death of Candace Newmaker.

Rosa, L. (2003) Holders fold. AT News Commentary.

Therapeutic Touch Protest, 21/8/2003
I knew that in order to accurately brief the medical executive committee, I had to become somewhat of an expert on TT in a very short time. I asked Linda Rosa, RN, the primary author of the JAMA study, for any material she could send me. She was extremely helpful, despite being swamped with calls from reporters after the huge press coverage that followed the study's publication.

1. Rosa L, Rosa E, Sarner L, Barrett S. A Close Look at Therapeutic Touch. JAMA 279:1005-1010, 1998.

Reiki Is Nonsense, 23/8/2015
In the mid-1990s, at ages 9 and 10, Emily Rosa demonstrated that 21 therapeutic touch (TT) practitioners could not detect her alleged "energy field." During the tests, the practitioners rested their arms on a flat surface, about a foot apart. Emily then hovered her hand, palm down, a few inches above one of the subject's palms. A cardboard screen prevented the subjects from seeing which of their hands was selected. The practitioners correctly located Emily's hand only 122 (44%) out of 280 trials, which is no better than would be expected by guessing . After the Journal of the American Medical Association published the results, TT leaders called the study a "parlor game," but they refused to suggest an alternative experimental design or to undergo similar tests themselves . It might be interesting to investigate whether reiki practitioners can actually sense or transmit "energy," whether reiki "attunements" actually enhance anything, and whether feelings of warmth are accompanied by any measurable change of skin temperature. Researchers at Scripps Institute (San Diego) recently used a Magnes 2500 WH SQUID device to measure the electromagnetic fields from the hands and heart of three reiki masters when they were (a) not practicing reiki, (b) purportedly transmitting reiki to a distant person, and (c) purportedly transmitting to a person in the room. Similar measurements were made on four reiki-naive volunteers before and after they received a reiki training/attunement enabling them to self-administer reiki. No high-intensity radiation attributable to reiki was found .

Rosa L and others. A Close Look at Therapeutic Touch. JAMA 279:1005-1010, 1998.

Massage Therapy: Riddled with Quackery, 19/2/2015
Rosa L, Rosa E, Sarner L, Barrett S. A Close Look at Therapeutic Touch. JAMA 279:1005-1010, 1998.

Delta Airlines Permits Anti-Vax Video, 12/11/2011
Delta did not return two phone calls requesting information. However, Linda Rosa, a registered nurse and executive director of the Institute for Science in Medicine, spoke Tuesday with Judd Hooks, who manages media on Delta's in-flight entertainment. According to Rosa, Hooks told her that the NVIC clip will show on overhead screens on westbound flights in the U.S. during November as part of Delta's "Lifestyle 365" program. Hooks also told her that before the video aired he spoke with "someone in Delta in charge of health issues." Hooks and this person reviewed the video "and determined that it does not deter anyone from vaccination."

Rebuttal of Timothy N. Gorski, M.D., 17/12/2005
Rosa L, Rosa E, Sarner L, Barrett S. "A Close Look At Therapeutic Touch," JAMA 1998 Apr 1;279(13):1005-10.

Miniglossary of "Alternative" Methods, 23/6/2004
Rosa L, Rosa E, Sarner L, Barrett S. A Close Look at Therapeutic Touch. JAMA 279:1005-1010, 1998.

"Rebirthers" Receive 16-Year Prison Terms, 20/6/2001
My wife Linda Rosa, my stepdaughter Emily Rosa, and I attended the trial every day and took copious notes through it all. During six hours of deliberation, the jury apparently was never in doubt as to the defendants' guilt on the main charge. On April 18, 2000, the two "psychotherapists," together with two "assistants," suffocated 10-year-old Candace Newmaker by wrapping her 70-pound body in a flannel sheet, piling on eight pillows and 673 pounds of adults. Her adoptive mother, Jeane Newmaker, a pediatric nurse practitioner(!), watched the entire episode, and a video camera recorded it. The two assistants and the mother also face charges and will be tried this fall.

Regulatory Actions Related to EAV Devices, 11/7/2016
In 2001, the FDA warned Vega Grieshaber KG and an American distributor (BioEclectic Research, of Santa Rosa, California) that the Vega devices and several others were unapproved medical devices that could not be legally marketed in the United States

Glenn Braswell's Advisors, 11/2/2013
Ron Kennedy, MD, who operates the Anti-Aging Medical Clinic in Santa Rosa, California, and a large Web site called The Doctor's Medical Library The ACAM directory lists his specialties as chelation therapy, bariatrics, cardiovascular disease, degenerative disease, diabetes, endocrinology, and nutrition.

Book Review: Herbal Medicines, Third Edition (2008), 6/9/2008
It’s easy to criticize with generalizations. Emily Rosa’s therapeutic touch study was accused of “poor design and methodology,” but as Singh and Ernst point out, “ protocol was simple and clear and her conclusion was hard to fault. Moreover, nobody has ever come up with an experiment that has overturned her findings.” If proponents of alternative medicine come up with good experiments that overturn the present findings, Singh and Ernst have made it clear that they will gladly accept them. In fact, Ernst has offered a prize of 10,000 to the first person who can show homeopathy is better than a placebo in a scientifically controlled trial. No one has applied for his money.

Index to FDA Warning Letters, 2/3/2008
BioEclectic Research, Santa Rosa, Calif. (4/25/01).

Therapeutic Touch Study Data, 1/12/2007
When she was nine and ten years old, my daughter Emily Rosa tested a total of 14 TT practitioners 10 times each, and 7 practitioners 20 times each. During the tests, the practitioners rested their forearms and hands, palms up, on a flat surface, approximately 10 to 12 inches apart. Emily then hovered her hand, palm down, a few inches above one of the subject's palms. The practitioners correctly located Emily's hand only 122 (44%) out of 280 trials, which is no better than would be expected by guessing. A score of 50% would be expected through chance alone. There was no correlation between the practitioner's score and length of experience. The results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on April 1, 1998.

Biological Terrain Assessment Is Nonsense, 21/8/2006
In the Spring of 2001, the FDA notified Grieshaber that its BTA 2000 device and related kits lacked FDA approval and could not be legally marketed in the United States . The FDA also sent warnings about the Bioscan 2010 to BioEclectic Research, of Santa Rosa, California , and Natural Health Consultants, of Vallejo, California .

Radar, Hula Hoops, and Playful Pigs (Contents), 28/12/2002
"Where's the Aura?" Asks Emily Rosa

Testimony of Dr. Robert Baratz, 15/4/2002
Systems of health care based on "life forces", energy fields, and unseen parasites are not science at all, and, at best, are forms of "pseudo-religious" belief. Some of these are obviously cults. Others are the products of delusions and chicanery. No matter how they are packaged, these methods and ideas are not science. Those who are trying to legitimize this neo-vitalism through legislation are, in my opinion, trying to legitimize a religion. Mind you I have no quarrel with any religion. I only ask that a rose be labeled a member of the genus Rosa., and that we follow the precepts of our Constitution.

NCAHF Position Statement on the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 1/4/2002
Sarner L, Rosa L. Commission member sketches. no-whccamp.org, accessed March 4, 2002.

Radar, Hula Hoops, and Playful Pigs (Contents), 13/8/2000
"Where's the Aura?" Asks Emily Rosa

Biography Magazine Interview of Dr. Stephen Barrett, 19/11/1999
Biography: An article in the New York Times last spring described a touch-therapy experiment designed by a 9-year-old student, Emily Rosa.

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