University of Illinois at Chicago
What do chaplains do final version.pdf (289.94 kB)

What Do Chaplains Do: The Views of Palliative Care Physicians and Nurses and Social Workers

Download (289.94 kB)
journal contribution
posted on 2019-08-21, 00:00 authored by Annelieke Damen, Dirk Labuschagne, Laura Fosler, Sean O’Mahony, Stacie Levine, George Fitchett
It is well accepted that attention to spiritual concerns is a core dimension of palliative care. It is similarly well accepted that chaplains are the spiritual care specialists who should address such concerns. However, what chaplains do when they provide care for patients and families is often poorly understood by their palliative care colleagues. Having a clear understanding of what chaplains do is important because it contributes to improved utilization of the spiritual care and other resources of the palliative care team and thereby to better care for patients and families. The aim of this study was to describe what palliative care physicians, nurses and so-cial workers understand about what chaplains do. Brief surveys were distributed to partici-pants at two workshops for palliative care professionals in 2016. The survey was completed by 110 participants. The majority reported that they understood what chaplains do moderately well or very well. Thirty-three percent of the written comments about what chaplains do were very general, a quarter were more specific. Only a small proportion of the participants were aware that chaplains provide care for the team, are involved in facilitating treatment decision-making, perform spiritual assessments and bridge communication between the pa-tient/family/team/community. Based on our survey, palliative care colleagues appear to have a broad understanding of what chaplains do but many may be unfamiliar with important contri-butions of chaplains’ to care for patients, families, and teams. These findings point to the need for ongoing education of palliative teams about what chaplains do in palliative care.


Publisher Statement

SAGE: This is a copy of an article published in the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. © 2015 SAGE Publications.


Damen, A., Labuschagne, D., Fosler, L., O'Mahony, S., Levine, S., & Fitchett, G. (2019). What Do Chaplains Do: The Views of Palliative Care Physicians, Nurses, and Social Workers. American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Medicine, 36(5), 396-401. doi:10.1177/1049909118807123


SAGE Publications


  • en



Issue date


Usage metrics


    No categories selected


    Ref. manager