NDE in Survivors of Cardiac Arrest
by Pim van Lommel
Book Review by Karin Schumacher Dyke
van Lommel, Pim, van Wees, ruud, Meyers, Vincent & Elfferich, Ingrid (2001). Near-death experience in survivors of cardiac arrest: a prospective study in the Netherlands. Lancet 2001; 358: 2039-45. Retrieved October 11, 2003 from http://profezie3m.altervista.org/archivio/TheLancet_NDE.htm
Sample344 patients that had experienced a near-death as the result of a cardiac episode.
MethodologyA longitudinal study that met and interviewed willing patients at as immediately after the near-death experience as possible (this varied with the health issues of each patient being slightly different), 2 years after their near-death experience, and 8 years after their near-death experience. Patients were administered questionnaires that assessed how their lives had changed as a result of the near-death experience. This was called the Life-Change Inventory. They were also classified as to whether their near-death experience had been superficial (core) or deep by having the patient’s rate on a likert scale how much they remembered about the near-death experience and this denoted for the researchers how “deep” the near-death experience was for the experiencer. These were measured using, “the Mann-Whitney test for categorical factors and with Spearman’s coefficient of rank correlation for ration-scaled factors (p. 4).” In addition, demographic information was taken from the participants denoting characteristics like age, religion, education and medical history, especially focusing on the drugs used to treat them during the episode in which they had experienced the near-death episode. Taped interviews were also conducted with the participants.
At the initial interviews 62 of the 344 patients interviewed said that they had experienced a near-death experience. Of these patients, only 41 had experienced a deep near-death experience where they remembered quite a bit about the experience and were able to relate this to the interviewers. Of those who had the deep experiences, considerably more of them died at this first report. 21 participants remembered some of the near-death experience and were classified by the interviewers as “core” experiencers. 282 participants reported having no memory of the near-death experience at all. Because these participants had just had the experience, they were not administered the life change inventory at this point. It appeared with this group that, “no medical, pharmacological, or psychological factor affected the frequency of the experience (p. 6).” Women appeared to have deeper experiences than men.
At the two year follow-up mark, 37 subjects participated in the study. All of the patients retold their near-death experiences almost exactly as before. The life change inventory indicated that, “people who had near-death experiences had a significant increase in belief in the afterlife and decrease in fear of death compared with people who had not had this experience (p. 8).”At the eight year mark for follow-up, 23 patients participated in the study. These people did not have the recall of the near-death experience that they had experienced at the two year follow-up but they did still have some memory of the experience. They no longer had as intense an interest in spiritual things as they had at the two year point. They were described however as, “more emotionally vulnerable and empathic, and often there was evidence of increased intuitive feelings (p. 9).” They still had no fear of the afterlife or death. They had also made more positive changes in their lives in the arenas of, “social attitude, religious attitude, attitude to death, and other (p. 9).”
Important Concepts and DefinitionsNear-Death Experience – all patients who met the criteria of, “all patients had been clinically dead, which we established mainly be electrocardiogram records (p. 3).”
Qualitative and quantitative measures were used to identify major trends in the research. Interviews as well as scales were used to come up with conclusions about the participant’s experiences.A control group was established during the study of patients who had experienced clinical death and were resuscitated in this group but had no near-death experience.
The life-change inventory assessed some interesting findings in relation to near-death experiencers and how they might have changed when fitting into the family. In assessing social attitude, it was brought out that near death experiencers showed changed attitudes as far as, “showing own feelings, acceptance of others, more loving, empathic, understanding of others and more involvement with the family (p. 8)”. These scores were even greater at the eight year follow-up of the near-death experiencers. In addition, it appears that these people became more spiritually-oriented, had no fear of death, and had more interests in other things besides themselves. These would also have an effect on the family, but this effect was not specified. Again, these scores were greater in the eight year follow-up than in the two year.How these changes affected the family overall was not available in this report but just that the people who experienced near-death were more involved with the family is significant. Due to their experiences in the afterlife, they felt more compelled to be a part of their family. This effect proved to be lasting over time as well as immediate right after the near-death experience.