New Studies Reveal Benefits of Spiritual Care

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Rev. Eric J. Hall, president & CEO, HealthCare Chaplaincy Network welcomes conference attendees. Courtesy of HealthCare Chaplaincy Network.
Rev. Eric J. Hall, president & CEO, HealthCare Chaplaincy Network welcomes conference attendees. Courtesy of HealthCare Chaplaincy Network.

Until now, no empirical data has existed on the contributions of chaplains in health care. But six studies released at the inaugural conference of the HealthCare Chaplaincy Network (HCCN) have revealed important advances in understanding the role of spiritual care in treating people facing serious illness, including cancer and patients at the end of their lives.

The conference, Caring for the Human Spirit: Driving the Research Agenda in Spiritual Care in Health Care, took place March 31 – April 3, 2014, at the New York Academy of Medicine, and was supported along with the research by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. “It culminates a three year long research and education project that will lead to better patient care on a global basis,” said Rev. Eric J. Hall, president and CEO of HealthCare Chaplaincy Network. “The studies are a huge step forward in describing what chaplains do so that interventions can be tested, measured, refined, and applied to better patient care.”

“Another significant outcome of the conference was the creation of a global research consortium on the impact of spiritual care in health care,” continues Hall. “Gathered in one place for four days were organizations and individuals devoted to quantifying and defining best practices. Everyone there felt the collective energy and commitment.” A full report of the proceedings will soon be available online.