What the Research Shows

Health care chaplaincy has increasingly been a subject of evidence-based research in recent years: What do spiritual care providers do? How do patients and their families respond to a chaplain’s services? Does chaplain care affect levels of anxiety and other forms of distress? To what extent do people facing illness also experience spiritual struggle (e.g. feeling abandoned by God)?

The emerging field of spiritual care research reflects rising interest in best practices for spiritual care providers and in growing attention to the outcomes of chaplains’ services — quality of care, including the level of patient and family satisfaction from hospital stays. Understanding these trends has become especially relevant at a time of ever-greater complexity of health care institutions (and how they are funded).