Making research a part of spiritual care

Rush University highlights the work of George Fitchett, the dean of the healthcare chaplaincy research community and co-founder of the Transforming Chaplaincy Project:

Decades ago, Fitchett says, he would have said “the things that are important about our work can’t be measured” — people’s religious or spiritual needs, for example, or the extent spiritual care helps people cope, or enhance their emotional well-being, quality of life or sense of peace.

Rev. Dr. George Fitchett. Photo by Rush University

But Fitchett, who is originally from New York City and is a Quaker, was intrigued by research from the beginning of his chaplaincy career. He regularly attended grand rounds and research presentations at Rush and came to the conclusion that these investigations were so central to effective health care that chaplains working in hospital settings eventually would be at a disadvantage if they couldn’t express themselves in “the language of research.”

He says, “I kept thinking, ‘Is there a way we could do research about spiritual care?’”

When he came across investigations that had been done in the psychology of religion, Fitchett realized those researchers were indeed developing measures for spiritual concerns, and that it was possible to thoughtfully and respectfully assess what spirituality can contribute — and which approaches might work best. Research could also direct professional training and provide chaplains with a way to present their accomplishments to medical colleagues and to the public. He wanted to be part of that.

Read more at Rush.