Vital Signs

St. Louis Nurse Leads Rare, Prospective Study

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the brain are not functioning, having possibly been shut down as a consequence of the cardiac arrest.

VS: Was the process of analyzing and writing up the data at all problematic?
JS: We had a long process of editing, during which Dr. Greyson was very helpful. I had one person who’d had an OBE only: ‘I was up there, and I could see everything that was going on.’ But that’s as far as it went. So he didn’t really classify as a core NDEr. Then I had two others who had some memory flashbacks that were not NDEs, and I was advised to put them in with those who did not have an NDE, instead of treating them statistically as a separate group. And that resulted in a recalculation of the statistics, which required a number of months.
VS: Did you think of having a different periodical publish your study other than the Journal of Near-Death Studies, or was that always your first choice?
JS: Personally, that was always my goal, that’s where I wanted it. But Dr. Weiss wanted me to send it to JAMA*, and also to the American Journal of Psychiatry and the American Journal of Psychology. And actually, I was very surprised at how complimentary they were. The problem they all had came down to the small sample size on which we had run a large number of simultaneous and interdependent statistical tests. The editors wrote that it was a significant study that has great implications for humanity, for religion, for spirituality. “Unfortunately,” they continued, “your study doesn’t exactly fit our format for the next year.”

But I have to say that the version we submitted to those other journals was not nearly as refined as it turned out to be after I incorporated the suggestions of Dr. Greyson and the other reviewers. They’re the ones who really fine-tuned the paper for me and brought out some of the important material that I had gathered but hadn’t included in my original draft. For example, the experiential and physical changes that are in the last two tables. And the specifics on the code data. Both made the article better, but I had not had them in the original draft I’d sent to JAMA, the American Journal of Psychiatry and the American Journal of Psychology.

So as it turned out, it was published exactly where I’d wanted it to be. Because Dr. Greyson had been behind me and supportive from the very beginning, and I really wanted him to have this study to publish.

But I have to tell you, one interesting thing about the study is that from the beginning it had a mind and a time of its own. No matter how much I tried to speed it up or to get it done, there was always something that just kept it right on its own time. People said, “Why are you doing this? Why are you putting in so many hours—and years—of your time?” And I couldn’t really tell them, other than it was just something I knew was very important, that was meant to be done. Re-organizing the data and fine-tuning the statistical operations went on year after year. I felt, this will be done when it’s meant to be


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