New articles

Two articles recently were published and may be of interest to chaplains involved in palliative care or with an interest in social determinations of health (SDH):

Grant E, Sisson CB, Hiatt TL, Stirewalt FK, Crandall SJ. Family Conference Simulation Designed for Physician Assistant Students and Chaplain Residents. J Palliat Med. 2021 May 25;. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2019.0563. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 34042524.

Background: Physician Assistants (PAs) are increasingly likely to work in clinical areas where family conference skills are needed, but there is currently a lack of family conference education in PA program curricula.

Objectives: To (1) describe a novel interprofessional education (IPE) event for PA students and chaplain residents; (2) examine whether participating in the IPE event is associated with improvements in attitudes and knowledge regarding interprofessional teams; and (3) describe participant perceptions about the event.

Design: Two cohorts of PA students and chaplain residents completed a required interprofessional simulation activity involving a critically ill patient and a family conference. All participants completed pre- and postsimulation activity questionnaires. Bivariate tests were utilized to analyze the quantitative data.

Setting/Subjects: Over two years, 171 PA students and 20 chaplain residents completed the activity at a school of medicine in the United States.

Measurements: Pre- and postactivity measurements included role-specific questions plus overlapping sections regarding roles and responsibilities of the other discipline, comfort facilitating end-of-life discussions, and the value of IPE.

Results: For PA students, there was a statistically significant increase for all questionnaire items. The largest effect size increases were in PA students’ confidence in provider–patient communication at the end of life (Cohen’s d > 1.1). Chaplain data demonstrated increases in knowledge of the PA role and likelihood of consulting with PAs in the future.

Conclusion: This simulation event improved participant attitudes and knowledge relating to interprofessional interactions in the setting of an end-of-life family conference, and may contribute to more effective collaboration between PAs and chaplains in the clinical setting.

Stirewalt FK. Association Between Mortality Rates and Religious/Spiritual Attendance in the United States – A Diminishing Return?. Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science. 2021 May; 3(2):41


Based on a systematic literature review, this article evaluates the association between regular religious service attendance and all-cause mortality in the United States. A PubMed literature search was conducted with search terms “religion,” “health,” and “mortality.” The review demonstrated a positive association between self-reported regular attendance in a religious community and a lower incidence of all-cause mortality. Regular participation in religious community activities is associated with an all-cause decrease in mortality and can thus be viewed as an additional social determinant of health (SDH). As the rate of U.S. religious community participation declines, its effect on mortality rates will likely diminish. Regular participation in a spiritual community, within the bounds of cultural sensitivity, should be encouraged.