Health and Social Care Chaplaincy

Editor in Chief
Meg BurtonFree Churches Group, London, UK

Editor in Chief (Elect)
Lindsay B. Carey, La Trobe University, Australia

Duncan MacLaren, NHS Lothian, UK
Daniel Nuzum, University College Cork, Ireland
Piret Paal, Paracelsus Medizinische Privatuniversitat, Austria
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



7.2 click here to view Spirituality & Peri-Natal Care Special Issue


8.1 click here to view advance access

8.2 click here to view advance access COVID-19 Special Issue 

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 2019: 0.3
SJR 2019: 0.130
SNIP 2019: 0.431

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


Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care Response to COVID-19: An Australian Case Study – The McKellar Centre

This article will consider a practitioner’s experience of the impact of COVID-19 on spiritual care within aged care at the McKellar Centre, Barwon Health, Victoria, Australia. Using Sulmasy’s (2002) paradigm, the provision of holistic care will be considered in terms of the physical, psychological, social and spiritual service variations that were necessary in order to continue to provide for the health and wellbeing of the most vulnerable in society – namely those in aged care. The WHO Spiritual Care Intervention codings (WHO, 2017) will be utilized to specifically explore the provision of spiritual care to assist the elderly requesting or needing religious/pastoral intervention. COVID-19 has radically shaped the environment of the McKellar Centre, however, the needs of elderly aged care residents must continue to be met, and this paper seeks to document how that process has been resolved in light of COVID-19. As pandemics are likely to reoccur, future issues for providing spiritual care from a distance, for the benefit of clients, their families, chaplains and health care organizations, will be noted. It must be acknowledged however, that the pandemic impact within Australia (and indeed much of the Oceania region) has been considerably less to that experienced by other regions of the world. Nevertheless, the preparatory and supportive response of spiritual care undertaken at the McKellar Centre speaks to a local response to an international crisis.

Posted: 2020-05-15More...

Validation of the Patient Reported Outcome Measure of Spiritual Care (PROM) in an Australian Setting

A multi-site study across five hospitals in Australia, undertaken as part of the study to evaluate the validity and reliability of the Patient Reported Outcome Measure of spiritual care (PROM) scale. Two hundred and eighty-one patients participated in the study. Data were analysed using AMOS (version 24) to assess the validity and reliability of the PROM using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). Predictive (criterion) validity of the scale was also assessed by evaluating the relationship of the PROM scale with the quality of spiritual care. The results demonstrated acceptable validity, model-based reliability and predicative validity for the PROM scale. It is recommended that a further study for cross-validation of the scale in different samples and populations is undertaken. Controlling for other variables such as (positive-negative affect or personality characteristics) for future studies might shed more light on the content validity of  the PROM. The study has implications for the longer-term goal of building an evidence base for a spiritual care framework for Australian healthcare organizations and beyond.  It is hoped that the data collected will enable spiritual health organizations to contrib- ute to a larger database of evidence, both nationally and internationally.
Posted: 2020-04-27More...

A Timeless God? A Rejoinder to van Holten and Walton

In this article John Swinton responds to the arguments detailed by Wilko van Holten2 and Martin Walton3 regarding the theology of the “Timelessness of God” and its relationship to disability and dementia (see ‘A Critical Appraisal of John Swinton’s Theology of Time and Memory’ Swinton acknowledges the value of van Holten and Walton’s critique but points out that, by ignoring the genre of his work – pastoral theology – they have misunderstood critical aspects and failed to acknowledge important issues around the relationship between concepts and practice. The Response acknowledges that the argument for the timelessness of God is complex and problematic but argues that reflection on this requires practical exploration as well as theoretical conjecture. Swinton offers insights into how the reflection on the nature of God’s involvement with time, properly construed, can throw important practical and theological light on to the lives of people with dementia and people with brain injuries.

Posted: 2020-02-09More...

A Timeless God? A Critical Appraisal of John Swinton's Theology of Time and Memory

In two recent publications the practical theologian John Swinton has given extensive attention to the concepts of time and memory. He considers in what way these have a bearing on how, in Western culture, we view and treat people with disabilities or other kinds of impairment. The authors of this article argue that despite the many pastoral merits of Swinton’s thinking on these subjects, his theology of time and memory is unsatisfactory as far as his interpretation of the relevant terms is concerned. Especially his appeal to the doctrine of divine timelessness which is shown to be flawed and unnecessary for his overall argument. A rejoinder to this article is presented by John Swinton at and also in the print issue (HSCC 8.1).

Posted: 2020-01-20More...

Spiritual and Religious Aspects of Pregnancy and Birth in Nigeria: Women’s Perspectives

Nigeria is both a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society, with plural health systems – unorthodox (traditional and faith-based) and orthodox (formal or modern) healthcare. Religious, spiritual and cultural/traditional beliefs about health and wellbeing remain central in everyday pregnancy and childbirth discourses in many lessincome countries including Nigeria. This qualitative hermeneutic study explored the spiritual and religious aspects of pregnancy and birth from the perspective of Igbo-Nigerian women. A purposive sample of 25 women took part in an individual faceto- face audio-recorded interview. Data were analysed using Gadamerian hermeneutic principles to unpack the meaning of religious and spiritual practices of pregnancy and birthing as articulated by women. The three themes that emerged are: “reliance on the supremacy of God”, “belief in supernatural forces”, and “keeping it secret” with most emphasis on the first theme. Pregnancy and birth are physiological and psychosocial events which have deep-seated spiritual connections. An understanding of the spiritual and religious aspects of women’s need during pregnancy and birthing becomes crucial.

Posted: 2019-06-28More...

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...

The Use of Rituals, Primarily Related to Grief, in a Hospital Setting: How Are They Helpful and How Can They Be Most Effective?

This paper examines the use of rituals, both one-off and repeated events, based on a hospital chaplain’s experience in a mental health setting. It considers why they are used, how they can be meaningful, effective and safe. It also considers risks associated with the use of rituals and how to plan carefully to maximise the benefits to those involved.
Posted: 2015-02-25More...

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...


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