The role of chaplains within oncology interdisciplinary teams

Curr Opin Support Palliat Care. 2012 Jun;6(2):259-68. doi: 10.1097/SPC.0b013e3283521ec9.


Purpose of review: The role of chaplains/spiritual care professionals and the importance of addressing spiritual needs within interdisciplinary oncology teams are in need of systematic review and critical appraisal. This review focuses on four key areas: basic concepts of spirituality within the healthcare domain; the relevance of spirituality within cancer care; the role of spiritual care within interdisciplinary cancer teams; and the current status of spiritual care professionals in interdisciplinary cancer teams.

Recent findings: Addressing cancer patient's spiritual issues is recognized as a component of comprehensive cancer care. Spirituality has a positive effect on subjective and emotional aspects of cancer patient's health, including quality of life, wellbeing and distress. Failing to address cancer patients spiritual needs impacts patient wellbeing, satisfaction with care, perceived quality of care and is associated with higher healthcare costs. Although a variety of disciplines address spiritual issues, spiritual care professionals are recognized by patients, clinicians, researchers and within best practice guidelines of national health councils as specialists within this domain.

Summary: Spiritual care professionals are increasingly recognized as integral members of interdisciplinary oncology teams. However, the full integration of spiritual care professionals within the standard practice of oncology interdisciplinary teams is lacking, as spiritual care services continue to be treated as ancillary services within cancer care organizations.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Clergy*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Pastoral Care / organization & administration*
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration*
  • Spirituality*