Evolving news on the science, writing and thinking about Near Death Experiences (NDEs)

1% recruited so far for the AWARE II study

Peter sent me an email, which I confess seemed a little gloomy and frustrated since he had looked at the latest status of the AWARE II study and learned that they had only recruited 1% of the patients that they intended to. He then asked me for my predictions for the outcome of this second version of the study.

Firstly, I have two reasons to not be quite so gloomy as Peter.

  1. From my own experience with, which is the US equivalent of the website that the AWARE study has its details, updates are usually very out of date. For instance studies will often be closed and collecting results before the website reflects that status. So it is entirely possible that more than 1% (which would be about 15 patients) have so far been recruited into the study.
  2. Even if it has taken 3 months to recruit 15 patients, I see that as a positive sign as it may mean that the investigators are being very narrow in their interpretation of the inclusion criteria. In my view they should only include patients who could possibly have had an NDE and who were in a room with the portable LCD monitor displaying random images.

As I have said before, in the first AWARE study, patients were included who were not even in rooms with the cards facing the ceiling. This defeats the purpose of the study in my view, so hopefully the reason that we are seeing them struggle with recruitment is that they are selecting patients in a more rational way.

My predictions for the outcome of this study are outlined in my book AWARE of AWARE, in which I discuss the original study, and predict only a couple of confirmed OBEs. I based this assumption (incorrectly), that only patients who survived a cardiac arrest, and were interviewed, and were in rooms with the cards, would be included in the analysis. If the AWARE II study follows this approach, and they recruit 1500 patients, all of whom had CAs and were resuscitated with the screen present AND were able to give an interview afterwards, then I would predict that only a couple would confirm their NDE by stating what was on the screen, this is based on the fact that only 10% of people who die and are resuscitated recall an NDE, of those maybe 25% have an OBE. Of those I would expect maybe 10% to notice the screen…that makes 3-4 patients. I must stress though, that this is only if the inclusion criteria are as strict as I outline and if they stick to this criteria.

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19 thoughts on “1% recruited so far for the AWARE II study

  1. Hi, Ben

    So presumably 15 “recruited” means 15 patients have been interviewed or persuaded to be interviewed ? What else could it mean. So if that’s the case, it must indicate that the team have followed an average of at least ten times that number of cardiac arrests, the majority of whom will have died from their arrests. Off the top of my head, this means that they are at least 50% down on their target numbers (depending on which figures of survival from arrest you use)

    I’m hoping they have interviewed them fairly quickly otherwise any positive results will attract the usual carping about memory contamination/confabulation from our friendly neighbourhood “armchair sceptics.”

    I wish Sam Parnia and his colleagues all the best in what is a most difficult project, effectively trying to “nail jelly to the wall. “


    • “Recruited” certainly implies that they completed the initial interview and are in follow-up. Remeber that in NDEs you want to do an assessment of memory clarity and accuracy to avoid the “post hoc recreation” criticism, which usually requires noting if there are any discrepancies between the initial version and its recollection months or years afterwards. For this same purpose, I am sure that they are trying to interview them ASAP, since Parnia has emphasized that this is a key to get better results.


  2. In the previous study, subjects were included in the overall analysis, (i.e. were recruited) even if they weren’t able to conduct an interview because they subsequently died or were lost to follow up, which is why only a hundred or so survivors out of over 2000 “enrolled” and provided any meaningful data to the final results. While it appears that the inclusion criteria are tighter for this study, they still seem quite broad compared to what I feel is necessary to produce “watertight meaningful” data. However, given the slow rate of recruitment, I do wonder if they are only including those who were interviewed, and ideally, where the LCD monitor was present during the procedure.

    If the latter is the case, I think their aim of completing recruitment of 1500 patients by May 2017 is very ambitious, unless they have a considerable expansion in the sites involved in the study.

    The other factor in this is “luck”. They do not need to fully recruit 1500 patients if they get some early validated OBEs. My feeling is that if they have 2 well validated (as watertight as possible) OBEs they have enough to create a considerable stir, whether the denominator is 100 or 1500. As I rationalize in the book from which this website derives its name, if the NDE is real, and the OBE element of the NDE is real, then a study with 1500-2000 patients should produce a small number of validated OBEs if the design is reasonable- which AWARE II appears to be. If they do get some early positives, I suspect they will present the results as this would enhance the appeal of being included in the study and result in more sites becoming involved, and most likely an increase in funding.


  3. 3-5 is the magic number IMO, since one will likely be considered a “fluke” and two “coincidence” by the hardcore skeptic crowd. For everyone else (the casual reader), a single case of verification under control should be more than enough to shatter pre-existing biases. Its a shame that even if they get early hits, we will not know about them until Parnia is invited to a big conference and even then, he might only provide a vague hint.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, 3-5 would be the ideal number, but I am going to get a metaphysical or philosophical here. I don’t think we are supposed to know for sure. One of our purposes is to seek and find the spiritual element of life, and if it is completely obvious, then where is the test in that? Who knows…even if hundreds had validated OBEs there would still be skeptics.


      • It would be revolutionary… It also has a dark side, surely some people would “opt out” if sufficient “proof” of continuity was provided. But the good would outweight the bad, for one it would undo the dehumanization that has been pushed by some within the philosophy, neuroscience and phychology fields, all of which have gotten increasingly materialistic as time goes by.

        “Proof” by itself will not make spirituality redundant… Yes, we would have enough torque to move it from belief to established fact, but that would only open a large number of questions. If survival is confirmed we would witness the birth of several new branches of science, instead of taking the purpose away from spirituality, I think that this would enhance it, since we would be seeking it in a coordinated fashion. The result could very well be an illuminated society, outliers and cynics notwithstanding.


      • You’re possibly right there. We’re not supposed to know. NDEs are not supposed to happen. In most cases we die or we don’t, we don’t normally get so close and come back. The NDE is possibly a confusion of straddling the two states of life and death.


  4. I tinkered around with the Wayback machine, it seems that the 1% was added recently, since the September copy was still at 0%. It may have been added just for the sake of noting that the project is underway.


    • Can I use that wayback machine after you…I need to lose a few years.


    • I’m not sure anything useful is ever found out by proceeding in a “co-ordinated” fashion. Groupthink is the enemy of innovation, I work in a corporation so I experience this daily.

      Actually it may cause deeper divisions in the world. Suddenly the moderators of the modern world, humanistic liberals, would be sidelined as irrelevant and an allout ideological (and possibly physical) war between various opposed views of the spiritual world may ensue. Call me cynical, but before the 1800s 99% of people believed in God, and the spirit world, and history prior to Darwin is hardly a picture of harmony.


      • Yes, but the religious element is often overblown and/or used as an excuse to justify what were fundamentally political wars. That is a pattern that can still be seen in the Middle East to this day. In the Western world, I hope that we could adapt without falling prey to such vestigial conflicts.

        One thing that may prevent this is that NDEs do not fully endorse or support any religion in particular; several of them actually contradict the tenets of the religions that believe in a dichotomy between sainthood/punishment. So, hopefully “proof” could lead to a more pragmatic approach and, perhaps, even unify diferent religions in some common topics. Or, maybe, even use said pragmatism to create a new pragmatic religion that is able to move beyond dogma.


  5. Being a Christian, reading about NDEs has certainly challenged a few tennets of my faith, but largely speaking the teachings and actions of Jesus fit very well into the accounts of the Being of Light, and any instructions that people appear to “bring back”. This forms one the main ideas I expound in my book…maybe why it has proved so unpopular! I agree that if there was a significant wordlwide acceptance of the NDE being real, and all that comes with such an acceptance, I can see it being more positive than negative…except in the middle East!


  6. Eric Matthew on said:

    We are up to 2%.


  7. Yes, 2% now on the UKCRN database. I would have thought that the ‘recruitment’ is what fulfills the stated objective of the study, to observe 900 – 1500 patients during and after cardiac arrest.
    It’s a bit of a sketchy term to use. The study appears to have been running for approx 6 months (May 15 start?) The way it is stated on the database under the sample size would suggest it is indeed a % of the intended raw observation sample.
    So, 2% being 30 patients. Not good going for 6 months. If the study must end at 2 years, we’re looking at around 120 patients.
    I always thought from the outset that the study was overly limiting itself, especially given the results of the first phase.


    • It could be though, that with the application oxygenation monitoring, the quality and potentiality of survivor recall is far greater than the first study


      • I don’t think things could be worse than the first study considering dead people were enrolled! They are now up to 3%. Maybe we will get lucky and any interesting events are front loaded, and the team are able to present some ground breaking results before the study has fully enrolled.


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