While there is tremendous anecdotal evidence that chaplains’ interventions are meaningful and effective, there is a need to develop studies which develop and test theories and models of clinical chaplaincy care. Read more about current research below.

  • We are currently conducting a meta-synthesis of the extent published case studies of chaplains’ interventions and their outcomes. It is anticipated that this will lead to a conceptual model explaining chaplaincy’s mechanism of action, and should generate testable hypotheses for future research. This work has been partially supported by NIH/NHLBI T35 LH113229 (PI: William Hardie, MD) and the Division of Pulmonary Medicine.
    Collaborators: Jonathan Etter, PhD (UC College of Medicine)
  • In order to help chaplains identify persons who potentially are most likely to benefit from a chaplain’s intervention (see fig. 1), we have several efforts using prayers written in hospital chapels. Using Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning, we are developing a computer code capable of analyzing written prayers and identifying those which express spiritual/religious struggle. Through this study we have also learned how spiritual/religious struggle may be expressed differently across cultures, suggesting that chaplain interventions may benefit from increased attention to cultural relevance (see fig. 2). This work has been partially supported by the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program, and the Divisions of Bioinformatics, Pulmonary Medicine, and the Department of Pastoral Care.
    Collaborators: Joshua Glauser (Division of Pulmonary Medicine), Laura Ramos Flores (Division of Bioinformatics), Brian Connolly, PhD (Division of Bioinformatics), Bob Faist, BS (Division of Bioinformatics), John Pestian, PhD (Division of Bioinformatics), Paul Nash (Senior Chaplain at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Birmingham, England), Lou Langford
  • Daniel Grossoehme is collaborating on this project led by George Fitchett, DMin, PhD and Wendy Cadge, PhD, funded by the John Templeton Foundation, the goal of which is to better equip healthcare chaplains to use research to guide, evaluate and advocate for the daily spiritual care they provide patients, family members and colleagues. The project will provide three different research-training opportunities for chaplains over the next four years. Fellowships will pay for 16 board-certified chaplains to complete a two-year, research-focused Master of Science or Master of Public Health degree in epidemiology, biostatistics or public health at an accredited school of public health. Curriculum development grants will be awarded to 70 ACPE-accredited clinical pastoral education (CPE) residency programs to support incorporation of research literacy education in their curricula. And a free online continuing education course, Religion, Spirituality and Health: An Introduction to Research, will be made available in 2017 at no cost to members of the professional chaplaincy organizations as a way to build evidence-based chaplaincy care. Read more on the project’s website: www.researchliteratechaplaincy.org.