SOURCE: University of California, Los Angeles, news release, March 30, 2015
THURSDAY, April 2, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- The belief that a full moon is linked to increases in hospital admissions and births is just an old wives' tale, an astronomist says.
"The moon is innocent," Jean-Luc Margot, a professor of planetary astronomy at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a university news release.
Yet the myth persists, even among a fraction of nursing professionals, Margo said. It's likely helped by studies such as a 2004 paper in a nursing journal that suggested the full moon affected the number of hospital admissions in a medical unit in Barcelona, Spain, he noted.
But Margot examined the study and said he found multiple mistakes in the researchers' data collection and analysis, proving that the number of patient admissions was unrelated to the lunar cycle.
Many studies have shown that the moon has no influence on events such as traffic crashes, hospital admissions, surgery outcomes, cancer survival rates, depression, violence, birth and criminal activity, yet many still believe the moon can affect human behavior, Margot said.
This may be due to what is called "confirmation bias," which refers to people's tendency to interpret things in ways that confirm their beliefs and to ignore evidence that contradicts them, he explained.
If people have a strange or hectic day when there is a full moon, they tend to remember it because it confirms their belief. But when such days occur when the moon is not full, people forget about them because they don't reinforce the belief, Margo said.
The study was published recently in the journal Nursing Research.
NASA has more about the moon.