Latest Issue: Vol 7, No 1 (2019) RSS2 logo

Health and Social Care Chaplaincy

Editor in Chief
Meg BurtonRotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (retired), UK

Lindsay B. Carey, La Trobe University, Australia
Duncan MacLaren, NHS Lothian, UK
Daniel Nuzum, University College Cork, Ireland
Linda Ross, University of South Wales and Staffordshire University, UK
Chris Swift, Chaplaincy for Methodist Homes, UK

Book Review Editor
Mark Newitt
Send Books for Review to: HSCC/Reviews
Chaplaincy Department
Royal Hallamshire Hospital
Glossop Road
S10 2JF
United Kingdom

Health and Social Care Chaplaincy is a peer-reviewed, international journal that assists health and social care chaplains to explore the art and science of spiritual care within a variety of contexts. The journal was founded in 2013 through the merger of the Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy (issn:1748-801X) and the Scottish Journal of Healthcare Chaplaincy (issn:1463-9920) . It continues to be the official journal of the College of Health Care Chaplains and members of the society receive the journal as part of their annual membership. For more details on membership subscriptions, please click on the 'members' button at the top of this page. Back issues of both previous journals are being loaded onto this website (see Archives) and online access to these back issues is included in all institutional subscriptions.

Health and Social Care Chaplaincy is a multidisciplinary forum for the discussion of a range of issues related to the delivery of spiritual care across various settings: acute, paediatric, mental health, palliative care and community. It encourages a creative collaboration and interface between health and social care practitioners in the UK and internationally and consolidates different traditions of discourse and communication research in its commitment to an understanding of psychosocial, cultural and ethical aspects of healthcare in contemporary societies. It is responsive to both ecumenical and interfaith agendas as well as those from a humanist perspective.

The journal focuses on ensuring that chaplains have the essential knowledge, skills and character required to perform chaplaincy services in a range of health and social care contexts. It fosters ethical practice; enhanced discourse and communication skills; philosophical and critical understanding; proficiency in assessment, intervention and evaluation; research literacy; team working and awareness of the contribution of other disciplines in the delivery of health and social care. It enables chaplains to offer staff support, enhance organisational spirituality and contribute to health and wellbeing in their communities.

The journal strives to bring the best practitioners and academics in the field into critical dialogue and also sets aside a place to encourage first time authors and reflective practitioners.

The editors are supported by an international, interdisciplinary advisory board.

From the SCOPUS Review of the journal (October 2017): It is good to see the level of citations in Scopus journals which demonstrates the value placed on the scholarly output of the journal and all Editors are to be commended on this development . The journal offers content that is of value to all health and social care professionals and contexts and it is noted as an international journal with an international Editorial Board.

Potential contributors should review the Guidelines for Submission on the For Authors page. Submissions should be made online.

Indexing and Abstracting

CiteScore 2018: 0.1
SJR 2018: 0.101

Publication and Frequency: 2 issues per volume year, May and November
ISSN 2051-5553 (print)
ISSN 2051-5561 (online)


Send Books for Review to: HSCC/Reviews
Chaplaincy Department
Royal Hallamshire Hospital
Glossop Road
S10 2JF
United Kingdom

Most Recent Articles


Healthcare Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care for Trans People: Envisaging the Future

Spiritual care has the potential to mitigate against "gaps" left when waiting lists (and times) for NHS gender identity clinics (GICs) spiral, and trans people awaiting medical interventions are at increased risk of suicide and self-harm. Healthcare chaplaincy has an explicit role to play, particularly for the sizeable number of trans people with religious faith or who struggle with finding support from faith communities. Spiritual care should be integrated within direct care provided by healthcare professionals, with additional care from specialist chaplains where desirable. Findings from the Modelling Transgender Spiritual Care project point to a need for additional training and resourcing in gender identity care for spiritual carers; a new prioritization of healthcare chaplaincy for gender identity services, which has implications for budgets and commissioning; and increased accountability for fulfilling the statutory requirement for spiritual care in the NHS.

Posted: 2019-01-02More...

Life Tasks: Excellence in Spiritual Care through Self-awareness

This article considers the quality of “self-awareness” and how it might be integrated into spiritual care. A unique “life task” model is proposed which includes discovery, testing and integration. A number of experiential exercises are suggested to facilitate the various life tasks. The article draws upon qualitative research to give an example of a person who has made progress on the life tasks and notes theologian Sarah Coakley as an example of a public figure who has engaged in the three life tasks.
Posted: 2018-07-19More...

A Comparison between Reactive and Proactive Chaplaincy Approaches

Healthcare chaplains are expected to be competent to address diverse spiritual needs in today’s multicultural society by being compassionate, sensitive, accessible and available. What should availability and accessibility look like? This paper examines the practices of two different chaplaincy teams within the same health board, notes differences in philosophy and practical approach, comments on relative strengths and weaknesses and offers reflective conclusions. It interacts with contemporary literature and the results of original research conducted through interviews. This paper finds that healthcare organisations need to have a full and frank description of its expectations of chaplains to promote uniformity of service provision, equality of workload, and to better enable health board management to grasp the level of resourcing required. It also identifies competing concepts of patient-centred versus person-centred care, and that local expectations of the chaplain’s role can significantly clash with the chaplain’s own sense of identity.
Posted: 2018-07-18More...

Opportunities of Spiritual Support for Hospital Staff in Estonian Health Care Institutions

The current article aims to give an initial qualitative insight into the opportunities to offer spiritual support for hospital staff in Estonian health care institutions. The article addresses the section of pastoral care and the questions about spirituality and spiritual support in a wider survey conducted during 2015-2016 in 19 Estonian hospitals. The results indicated the medical staff's need for information concerning the spiritual and existential questions; the lack of time, work overload and feeling of psychological discomfort were brought out as hindering the discussions about spiritual/religious or existential topics with the patients. The need to deal with the staff members' feelings emerged together with the patient deaths and mentioned also together with the perceived rigidness of the health care system.

Posted: 2018-07-18More...

“Spirituality Matters”: Reflections on a Chaplaincy Championed Spiritual Care Initiative in a New Zealand Cancer Ward

This article describes the Spirituality Matters project, a multi-disciplinary quality improvement project conducted in an inpatient cancer treatment ward during the summer of 2014-2015 at Palmerston North Hospital, New Zealand. The project involved staff training, pre- and post-surveys of staff, trailing a spiritual screening tool, specially designed education material for patients and staff, and patient interviews. Key findings suggest that although 81% of staff indicated initially that they were confident about engaging with patient around spirituality, in reality many of them found the process very challenging. Difficulties with language, role definition, competing clinical priorities, and perceptions of chaplains as ‘religious’ were identified as significant barriers. Although the project aim, of improving spiritual care provision, was not sustained after its trial period, a number of important lessons were learnt. This included the challenges of driving change in a clinical setting; including methodology, resourcing, utilization of academic researchers and the need for resilience in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The project did raise the profile of the chaplain and the issue of how best to meet spiritual need.
Posted: 2018-05-23More...

Most Viewed Articles


“What? So What? Now What?” Applying Borton and Rolfe’s Models of Reflexive Practice in Healthcare Contexts

Healthcare chaplains as healthcare professionals are expected to use reflective practice to develop their work. This article describes how reflexive practice is critical to practitioners doing this. It outlines how Terry Borton’s process of reflection arose out of a secondary school context; and contends that his simple three step model is capable of facilitating profound insights in healthcare too. The way in which Gary Rolfe expands Borton’s model is explained, showing how he was seeking to make it more comprehensive and credible. Finally, a way of combining Borton and Rolfe’s models is described and pictured. It is argued that it is both structured and flexible enough to fit the experiences, learning needs and time available to healthcare practitioners.
Posted: 2016-05-29More...

A Buddhist perspective on Health and Spirituality

This article gives a brief overview of some of the basic tenets of Buddhism. Its particular emphasis is upon Buddhist expressions of spirituality, as they are likely to be met with in a healthcare setting. Included are guidelines on diet, attitudes to medicine, and beliefs and traditions around death and dying.
Posted: 2013-04-08More...

Re-evaluating Chaplaincy: To Be, or Not…

Healthcare is a dynamic and evolving culture within which chaplaincy has continually adapted to maintain professional relevance and respect. Over time, forms of chaplaincy have emerged as responses to changes in culture: multi-faith chaplaincy and the subtle shift in focus from religious care to spiritual care being two examples. However, adaptation impacts on the character of chaplaincy and questions its core values. Outcome Oriented Chaplaincy (OOC) is a response to the “paradigm shift” in healthcare chaplaincy that aims to integrate assessment, intervention, outcome evaluation and care planning into the chaplain’s role. OOC seems perfectly adapted to the culture of contemporary market-driven healthcare; however, the values underwriting this culture are being questioned, and their impact on professional values challenged. This paper accepts OOC has much to offer chaplaincy, but calls for a critical engagement with the model, arguing that the demand to remain relevant to contemporary healthcare culture should not be at the expense of person-centred, person-focused values of compassion, dignity and respect embodied within the presence model of spiritual care.
Posted: 2013-09-25More...

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE): A Reflection

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is a widely used educational programme in many parts of the world. This article is a reflection on the author’s personal experience of CPE, together with some very brief historical data, and approved quotes from the reflections of a small group of participants in a CPE module held in Scotland in the Autumn of 2002. It is offered to stir interest in CPE, rather than to give a deeply informative description of the process.
Posted: 2013-05-15More...

Recognizing and Meeting the Spiritual Needs of Hospital Inpatients

The aim of this project is to improve understanding of the spiritual needs of inpatients and to establish how well these are recognized and met. Interviews were carried out with 13 patients, who had seen a chaplain, to ascertain their spiritual needs. Nursing staff were interviewed about their perception of patients’ spiritual needs, and the referring chaplain’s written account of the intervention was obtained. The study examined and found that there was variable agreement between patients’ and nurses’ ratings of spiritual needs, which may suggest nurses do not always recognize the need for specialist spiritual care referral. Conversely there was substantial agreement between patient and chaplain reported outcomes of chaplaincy intervention (κ=0.77; 95% CI, 0.495 – 1.047), suggesting that chaplains met personally relevant spiritual needs. The results of this research suggest that spiritual needs are important to patients, regardless of religious affiliation, and that chaplains meet these needs. However, staff are not necessarily good at recognizing the need for specialist referral.
Posted: 2013-09-25More...


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