Integrating chaplaincy into healthcare

Spiritual care can be an important source of support for patients dealing with chronic or terminal illnesses, and it is a key component of palliative care | BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care

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Studies have shown that patients would like more frequent discussions on religion and spirituality (R/S) while in the hospital, but many patients do not have the chance to do so. One way to ensure that R/S is addressed during a hospital stay is via chaplain referrals. One study showed that chaplain visits are associated with increased patient satisfaction, and patients more often endorsed that staff met their emotional and spiritual needs, although research shows differences among professionals in chaplaincy referral rates; nurses have been shown to have higher likelihood of referring than physicians and social workers (SWs).

With the advent of the electronic health record (EHR), we felt it was important to explore whether or not healthcare professionals (HCPs) are interested in technology for requesting chaplains, and therefore improve access to spiritual care for patients. In fact, some initial research shows potential benefits of using electronic means to better identify and target patients in need of a chaplain visit, and one innovative palliative care service using pagers for referrals was reported as highly valuable by nurses to patients and the clinical team.

Here, we report results from a quality improvement (QI) project aimed at improving chaplaincy referrals, and therefore spiritual care, at a major academic centre in New York City, with a focus on gauging interest in technology-driven means for chaplain referrals.

Full reference: Rhee, J.Y. et al. (2017) Integrating chaplaincy into healthcare: a survey shows providers are interested in technology-based options. BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care. Published Online First: 7th July 2017. 

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