Review of Literature
Spiritual (or Pastoral) Care occupies a unique place within the health care system. Spiritual Care: “Provides a supportive, compassionate presence for people at significant times of transition, illness, grief or loss. This care is most often delivered through attentive and reflective listening and seeks to identify the person’s spiritual resources, hopes and needs. Care is provided from a multi-faith and spiritual perspective offering support, comfort, spiritual counselling, and faith based chaplaincy and religious services to patients and their families. Spiritual care is a collaborative and respectful partnership between the person and their health care provider and is an integral component of holistic care” (Spiritual Health Victoria, 2015, p. 2). Originally arising out of the Christian faith, the profession now needs to present itself in the clear terms of science and to define what exactly it is doing that is of benefit to patients, staff and families. It needs to report on its activities and outcomes; What works? What doesn’t? Who is most in need of spiritual care? How do healthcare staff make assessment and refer appropriately? What is the specific domain of spiritual care within the broader spiritual care that is (or should be) offered by all health care practitioners? How can the profession articulate its unique and necessary contribution to health care? Many of the above concerns are allayed if spiritual care staff are able to report their interactions with patients in meaningful and representative ways, and to capture data on the outcomes of those interactions. This review seeks to understand how data relating to spiritual care is recorded, including that within hospital reporting systems such as progress notes, and research reporting spiritual interventions and outcomes. It acknowledges that spiritual care may be provided by all members of the healthcare team (and particularly nursing staff), however this review focusses predominantly upon research that speaks to the spiritual care provided by spiritual care professionals (pastoral care or chaplaincy staff members and volunteers). It also looks at the relationship between spiritual care and other healthcare staff. While this review does not specifically address the quality of spiritual care research, it must be noted that many authors cite the need for more rigorous research in the area of spiritual care, and/or advocate training for spiritual care staff to increase confidence in this practice (Derrickson & Hise, 2010; Fitchett, Nieuwsma, Bates, Rhodes, & Meador, 2014; Kevin J. Flannelly, 2010; Kevin J. Flannelly & Jankowski, 2014; Galek, Flannelly, Jankowski, & Handzo, 2011; Jacobs, 2008; Jankowski & Flannelly, 2015; Kestenbaum et al., 2015; Murphy & Fitchett, 2010; K. M. Piderman & Johnson, 2009; Proserpio, Piccinelli, & Clerici, 2011; Selman, Young, Vermandere, Stirling, & Leget, 2014; Tartaglia, Dodd-McCue, & Murphy, 2012; Weaver, Flannelly, & Liu, 2008; U. Winter-Pfandler & Morgenthaler, 2010).