Health care chaplains, the front-line workers around religion and spirituality in health care, are embracing the importance of evidence-based practice and realizing the need for training to use research to guide the spiritual care they provide and engage in research-informed conversations with colleagues, patients and families. In health care environments, where understandings of the relationship between religion, spirituality and health are often controversial, chaplains need to be empirically informed so that their roles are not at risk as jobs are cut back or eliminated.

The Transforming Chaplaincy: Promoting Research Literacy for Improved Patient Outcomes project is equipping healthcare chaplains to use research to guide, evaluate, and advocate for the spiritual care they provide. Funded by two grants totaling $4.5M over four years from The John Templeton Foundation, the project seeks to close the gap between healthcare chaplains’ current limited research literacy and the importance of evidence-based care for all members of the health care team. It is co-led by George Fitchett, DMin, PhD, professor and director of research in the Department of Religion, Health and Human Values at Rush University Medical Center and Wendy Cadge, PhD, professor of sociology and chair of the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program at Brandeis University.

The project has a three-part training plan to advance knowledge about religion and health in health care organizations and among the public. We focus on research literacy for chaplains, the ability to understand and discuss research on religion, spirituality and health and apply it to chaplaincy practice.

The project’s three key training opportunities, which will create at least 800 research-literate chaplains’ understandings of religion, spirituality and health and transforming chaplaincy as a profession, include:

Fellowships: A Fellowship program 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. Fellows will also complete a for-credit online course, Understanding Research on Religion, Spirituality and Health, receive mentoring, and participate in conferences and research.

Click here for more information about the Fellowships.

CPE Grants: 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. CPE Centers that do not have year-long residency programs are also welcome to apply; please see the FAQ’s for more information. First-year grants will be $2,500, and second-year grants will be $1,500 with an opportunity for an additional $1,000 for Centers whose students demonstrate increased understanding of research-informed practice. Centers will be free to use their grants to fund research curriculum that best fits their context, for example, to establish an ongoing research seminar series, host a researcher-led class, or attend online courses in religion, spirituality and health.

Click here for more information about the CPE Curriculum Development Grants.

Free, Online Education for Chaplains: With the support of the four major professional chaplaincy and pastoral education organizations (the Association for Professional Chaplains, the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, the National Association for Catholic Chaplains and Neshama—the Association for Jewish Chaplains), an online continuing education course, Religion, Spirituality and Health: An Introduction to Research, will be made available at no cost to members of these organizations. The course focuses on basic research knowledge and its relevancy to the chaplaincy field.

Click here for more information about Online Education for Chaplains.

Sign up for our mailing list so we can send you news and updates about the project.