Spiritual Care Training Provided to Healthcare Professionals: A Systematic Review

J Pastoral Care Counsel. 2015 Mar;69(1):19-30. doi: 10.1177/1542305015572955.


This systematic review was conducted to assess the outcomes of spiritual care training. It outlines the training outcomes based on participants' oral/written feedback, course evaluation and performance assessment. Intervention was defined as any form of spiritual care training provided to healthcare professionals studying/working in an academic and/or clinical setting. An online search was conducted in MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Web of Science, ERIC, PsycINFO, ASSIA, CSA, ATLA and CENTRAL up to Week 27 of 2013 by two independent investigators to reduce errors in inclusion. Only peer-reviewed journal articles reporting on training outcomes were included. A primary keyword-driven search found 4912 articles; 46 articles were identified as relevant for final analysis. The narrative synthesis of findings outlines the following outcomes: (1) acknowledging spirituality on an individual level, (2) success in integrating spirituality in clinical practice, (3) positive changes in communication with patients. This study examines primarily pre/post-effects within a single cohort. Due to an average study quality, the reported findings in this review are to be seen as indicators at most. Nevertheless, this review makes evident that without attending to one'the repeliefs and needs, addressing spirituality in patients will not be forthcoming. It also demonstrates that spiritual care training may help to challenge the spiritual vacuum in healthcare institutions.

Keywords: healthcare professionals; medical education; professional development; spiritual care training; spirituality; undergraduate education.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Chaplaincy Service, Hospital / organization & administration
  • Education, Professional / organization & administration*
  • Health Personnel / education*
  • Humans
  • Pastoral Care / education*
  • Professional Competence*
  • Religion and Medicine*