A White Paper. Professional chaplaincy: its role and importance in healthcare

J Pastoral Care. 2001 Spring;55(1):81-97.


This paper describes the role and significance of spiritual care and is the first joint statement on this subject prepared by the five largest healthcare chaplaincy organizations in North America representing over 10,000 members. As a consensus paper, it presents the perspectives of these bodies on the spiritual care they provide for the benefit of individuals, healthcare organizations and communities. Throughout this paper, the word spirituality is inclusive of religion; spiritual care includes pastoral care. Spiritual caregivers in healthcare institutions are often known as chaplains although they may have different designations in some settings, i.e. spiritual care providers. The paper contains four sections. 1. The Meaning and Practice of Spiritual Care This first section describes spirit as a natural dimension of all persons and defines the nature of spiritual care. With the basic premise that attention to spirituality is intrinsic to healthcare, the paper establishes their relationship and outlines the various environments in which it is provided. 2. Who Provides Spiritual Care? Professional chaplains provide spiritual care and this section describes their education, skills and certification. 3. The Functions and Activities of Professional Chaplains This section delineates the typical activities of professional chaplains within healthcare settings, focusing on their care of persons and their participation in healthcare teams. 4. The Benefits of Spiritual Care Provided by Professional Chaplains The materials here describe how professional chaplains benefit healthcare patients and their families, staff members, employing organizations, and communities.

Publication types

  • Guideline
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Clergy*
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards*
  • Humans
  • Pastoral Care*
  • Religion and Medicine*
  • Role