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Fall 2017 Newsletter

Volume 16, Number 1
Published November 2, 2017

Edited by Chaplain John Ehman, Network Convener

Network members are encouraged to submit articles for upcoming issues.
The Newsletter is published three times a year: Fall, Spring, and Summer.



  1.     Convener's Report on the Future of the Research Network and Its Website, by John Ehman
  2.     New Website from the Transforming Chaplaincy Project
  3.     Invitation to a Research Community of Practice
  4.     Chaplain Researcher Saneta Maiko at Indiana University Health, by Beth Newton Watson
  5.     2018 Chaplaincy Summer Research Institute
  6.     CSRI --A Personal Story, by Jennifer M. Jarvis
  7.     Report from David Hormenoo, Duke University Hospital, Durham, NC
  8.     Report from Michael Doane, Fairview CPE Center and Health System, Minneapolis, MN
  9.     Report from Michelle Oberwise-Lacock, Aurora Health Care, Milwaukee, WI (metropolitan area)

  10.   Review of Recent Progress in Chaplaincy-Related Research
  11.   2018 Muslim Mental Health Conference in Washington, DC
  12.   2018 European/British Joint Conference on Spirituality and Health



1.   Convener's Report on the Future of the Research Network and Its Website   --by John Ehman

Since our Network website began in September 2002, we have changed it in response to the needs of the ACPE and others who use it. For most of this time, the site has been a major resource not only for CPE programs but for professional chaplains in general and for the larger Spirituality & Health research community. Our goals have been to promote research literacy, encourage original studies, connect people of similar interests, and stir creative discussion within and beyond our organization. In recent years, our Newsletters have reported the growth of new research initiatives in the world of chaplaincy, and some of those have closely aligned with or complemented our own mission. I believe that now is the time to consider what those new initiatives may portend for our Network and website, as we all work together to advance this field of research. In particular, I mark five key developments on the larger front:

  • In 2014, the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC) authorized a plan for an international Joint Research Council (JRC), to provide "a forum for communication and collaboration between organizational partners to advance chaplaincy as a research-informed profession in a way that minimizes duplication and maximizes impact" [--from the Charter document]. Our Network was in touch with this project early on, noting it in our Fall 2014 Newsletter, and we have participated regularly in conference calls as the JRC came together. The project has progressed to involve representatives of over 20 chaplaincy groups from around the world, and its members have for the past two years been exploring the idea of a website as an international hub for information about chaplaincy research.

  • In 2015, the Transforming Chaplaincy project was launched with grant funding from the John Templeton Foundation and support from the ACPE, the APC, the National Association of Catholic Chaplains, and Neshama - Association of Jewish Chaplains; with the purpose of promoting research literacy among chaplains through fellowships, curriculum grants, and educational opportunities. The project included the creation of a website to serve participants, and that linked to various sections of our Research Network site. In collaboration with this project, our Network has frequently covered Transforming Chaplaincy in our Newsletters.

  • In 2017, as part of the ACPE's reorganization, a board-level Research Committee was established. The lead article in our Summer 2017 Newsletter addressed this. Among the elements of the Committee's charge was a directive to explore research that could inform and guide educational processes important to the ACPE, plus a provision to explore collaboration with the Joint Research Council and Transforming Chaplaincy.

  • Also in 2017, the ACPE moved to create Communities of Practice (CoP), which opened up the possibility of an ACPE Research Community of Practice. An invitation about such an idea was sent to our Network email list in September and received strong support. [For more on this CoP, see Item #3, below].

  • Finally, over the summer of 2017, the Transforming Chaplaincy project built upon the original idea of its website, with a plan to expand it in ways that should support core interests of the Joint Research Council as well as our Network. [See Item #2, below.] For instance, news elements of the reworked Transforming Chaplaincy site should cover much that we've tended to include in our Network Newsletter. And, our Article-of-the-Month will be highlighted on their website, bringing a larger audience to that series of features.
So, what might all of these developments mean for us? The short answer is that the full implications are not yet clear, since so much of what is happening are works in progress. However, there is a good spirit of cooperation among all the parties, and there seems to be agreement that together the various research initiatives can generate constructive synergy rather than redundancy. As the Convener of our Network for the past 15 years, I can say that I am enthusiastic about the prospects of all of this organizational activity. In light of this, I can envision several possible directions for our Network and website:
  • Regarding research news coverage, our Network site might increasingly be able to point to the (expanded) Transforming Chaplaincy site and the flow of information coming through the Joint Research Council. This could affect the content of our Network's Newsletters, as we might focus more on ACPE-specific news and Center reports and leave broader news items to be reported by Transforming Chaplaincy (and the Joint Research Council). We might even move away from publishing three issues a year and go instead with an annual volume compiled from new items posted throughout the year --a publication format that has become increasingly popular among online journals.

  • Our Network website could become a conduit for information/communication for the ACPE Research Committee and the ACPE Research Community of Practice. Or, as those two initiatives form and develop, they may cultivate a new kind of "network" in the ACPE, into which our current Research Network could transition. If that became the case, and if our Network website needed to change to something altogether different, then we would plan to archive its accumulated content for continual access.

  • Given the moves to establish the ACPE Research Committee and the ACPE Research Community of Practice, the idea of "membership" support for our Network would seem to warrant rethinking. In the meantime, the Membership section of our website has been removed from the home page.

  • Our Article-of-the-Month features, which constitute the most popular section of our site, should continue. However, with an increasingly wide audience (coming via the expanded Transforming Chaplaincy site) or in response to direction from the ACPE Research Committee, the structure of those article features might need to change. Also, with more and more chaplains becoming involved with research, the authorship of the monthly features may have new potential for diversification.
Our Summer 2017 Newsletter highlighted a timeline of benchmarks for research in the ACPE. It gives a picture of how recent developments are part of a long history. One thing that distinguishes present efforts from all that have gone before is the use of the Internet for communication and networking, and among our Network's contributions to chaplaincy research has been its web presence. We will chart ahead the course of that presence in partnership with Transforming Chaplaincy and others with Internet initiatives, but feedback and suggestions from you, the Network's members and associates, is critical. Please send your thoughts on how the Network may best support you and the ACPE to   --JE, 11/2/17


2.   New Website from the Transforming Chaplaincy Project

Transforming Chaplaincy (TC), the project funded by the John F. Templeton Foundation with additional support from the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE), the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC), Neshama - The Association for Jewish Chaplains (NAJC), and the National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC), is launching a new website, [--not yet operational at the time of this Newsletter's publication but expected soon to be]. This website is a partnership of TC, the APC, and other members of the Joint Research Council. It will serve as a rich guide to research-literate chaplaincy, offering resources for a wide variety of chaplaincy roles; ways to connect with other chaplains, educators, administrators, and researchers; and news of the profession. The new venture will also publish a regular newsletter, available to everyone (--the website will provide a means to sign up for the newsletter).

--Notice provided by Transforming Chaplaincy


3.   Invitation to a Research Community of Practice

ACPE Educator Michael Doane, System Director for University of Minnesota Health Spiritual Health Services, has volunteered to be the convener of a Research-focused Community of Practice for our organization. In September and October, he began sending emails inviting ACPE members join such a CoP, including the following:

As those of you who are members of ACPE know, the organization is encouraging engagement and community around areas of interest. These Communities of Practice (CoP) will be a means by which ACPE members engage one another and those of other organizations. CoPs are defined by ACPE as "a group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly." You are invited to join a Community of Practice that focuses on Research.
More information about this CoP will be reported through our network as plans develop, but all who are interested should contact Michael through


4.   Chaplain Researcher Saneta Maiko at Indiana University Health

Indiana University Health continues to support Clinical Research in Spirituality and Medicine. In 2015 the Rev. Saneta Maiko, PhD, was hired to succeed Chaplain Paul Bay as Chaplain Researcher located at the Academic Health Center of Indiana University Health. It was the decision of Spiritual Care and Chaplaincy Services to continue the dedication of half of an FTE to qualitative and quantitative research. Dr. Maiko has worked diligently under his research mentor, Alexia Torke, MD, to develop the quantitative research skills necessary for his work with our department and the Daniel F. Evans Center for Spiritual and Religious Values in Healthcare [--see Item #4 of the Summer 2016 Newsletter] at Indiana University Health, and will complete a Masters in Clinical Research by summer of 2019 under a John Templeton Foundation Fellowship as part of the Transforming Chaplaincy initiative. His most recent paper under journal review examines "Spiritual and Religious Coping for Surrogates of Hospitalized Older Adult Patients." He is also completing an observational study on understanding the spiritual needs of advanced cancer (stage IV) patients (--see Poster #59 at Dr. Maiko looks forward to finishing his fellowship as he plans to conduct a randomized control trial with advanced cancer patients to assess the effect of spiritual care on spiritual and emotional wellbeing. He is a gifted clinician, is capable relationally, and has been able to recruit subjects for his own work. While the dedication of a position to research has at times been burdensome to the department, our conviction is that we are contributing to best practices and a future in which spiritual care is increasingly integrated as an understood, effective, and essential component of healing for all persons.

--Beth Newton Watson, MDiv, BCC, ACPE Clinical Educator, Director, Spiritual Care and Chaplaincy Services, Indiana University Health: The Academic Health Center


5.   2018 Chaplaincy Summer Research Institute

The 2018 Chaplaincy Summer Research Institute (CRSI), part of the Transforming Chaplaincy initiative, will take place July 23-27 at Boston University's School of Theology (Boston, MA). The purpose of the CRSI is to equip chaplains with skills in a short-term intensive format, so as to be able to undertake simple but important research and quality improvement projects and to collaborate on research projects with non-chaplain investigators. The 2017 course, held at Rush University Medical Center (Chicago, IL), was filled to capacity early and was a great success. Participants heard lectures on design and methods relevant for research about spiritual care, dialogued with the authors of significant chaplaincy research projects, and met in small groups to receive consultation about developing a research question or quality improvement project. A review of the 2017 course was published in the September 2017 issue of the Association of Professional Chaplains' Forum (vol. 19, no. 6), and see below [Item #6] for a personal story of how the experience played into the interests and work of one participant. For more information on the upcoming 2018 course, visit the Transforming Chaplaincy site, or contact Project Coordinator Kathryn Lyndes at


6.   CSRI --A Personal Story, by Jennifer M. Jarvis

[Editor's Note: Rev. Jennifer M. Jarvis, Chaplain at St. Thomas Midtown Hospital in Nashville, TN, attended the Chaplaincy Research Summer Institute, July 24-28, 2017.]

I hated statistics when I was in school. In fact, I nearly failed it. I suffered through the class and thought it didn't really matter because I was never going to use statistics ever again. (I think you can see where this is going.)

When I first did my intern unit and residency, and even in the beginning of my career as a staff chaplain, I was relatively unaware of the field of chaplaincy research. A few articles and mentions of studies here and there, but I had no real concept of who was doing this work or how that should affect how I did my work. I think the light bulb really came on for me during my first Association of Professional Chaplains conference in 2013. I attended a plenary session that focused on research and included a pitch that all chaplains needed to be participating in research. As a result, I became intentional about seeking out webinars and articles related to chaplaincy research and looking for ways to include small pieces of research into my own work.

Slowly my interest grew, and in 2017 I applied to go for an entire week of research training. I was honored to be chosen to participate in the Chaplaincy Research Summer Institute provided by Transforming Chaplaincy.

Through the week-long course, our time was broken into instruction and small group sessions. Our instruction sessions included not only hearing about research projects but the nitty-gritty of how they are accomplished. We spent time learning about resources, and yes, reviewing/learning more about the use of statistics. This gave us a foundation for our small groups. These groups paired an experienced researcher and a handful of students and allowed the students to talk about a concrete project they were working on or something they were thinking about in terms of research. This was an opportunity for questions and feedback from the whole group and proved to be extremely valuable. The whole experience inspired several ideas/projects for me in my context as a staff chaplain, and connected me to a group of people who are colleagues in research.

My first reaction to CRSI was feeling completely overwhelmed. There was a significant amount of pre-conference reading to do and plenty of homework to accomplish in the evenings during the week. However, instead of feeling bogged down by these (often) dense, detailed articles, I began to feel inspired and encouraged. I gained understanding in how to dissimilate the information and developed a better appreciation for the foundations of the work and the implications of the results.

So what does one do with this experience? As a staff chaplain, my days are primarily devoted to direct care, but there are ways I have increased my involvement in research. I am participating in a workgroup on a national level. I am contributing to our department goals for research. I am meeting with leadership in my institution about the importance of chaplaincy research and how we can be involved through developing small projects that can grow over time. But more than that, I am working on increasing awareness of and accessibility to participation in chaplaincy research with some of my closest colleagues. I am starting a journal club for the region with another chaplain who is doing online education through Transforming Chaplaincy. And in a few weeks, I am leading a small group at our department retreat about how to realistically be involved in research.

Going to CRSI gave me the tools I needed to make chaplaincy research less intimidating and more accessible. I believe research is something all chaplains can participate in, because chaplains know what chaplains do better than anyone else. Research -- complete with statistics -- will help us clarify and define our work for the systems and people who struggle to understand what we do. When we can prove that what we are doing actually makes a difference, we can provide better care.   --JMJ




The Second Cohort of Curriculum Grant Recipients has been announced by the Transforming Chaplaincy project, completing the full compliment of awardees. The listing of both cohorts may be downloaded HERE. The following are reports from a sample of recipients.

7.   Report from David Hormenoo, Research Coordinator, Duke University Hospital, Durham, NC

The Duke Chaplain Services and Education Department applied for the Transforming Chaplaincy Curriculum Grant in order to place emphasis on the development of basic research literacy skills required to contribute to comprehensive, high quality health care delivery for patients and families. This is in line with the hospital's emphasis on research and high quality care for patients and families. The aim of the research seminar is to help residents to become informed research consumers in the area of being able to find research that is relevant to their ministries, to read and understand and be able to articulate how that research informs or makes their ministry of pastoral care effective. We are proud recipients of the first (2016/2017) and second year (2017/2018) curriculum grants. We are in the middle of our second year research seminar.

Our research curriculum seminar was taught by Nathan Boucher, a researcher at both Duke and Durham VA Hospital. The seminar was for only our 6 year-long residents and met once a week for one hour. Ethical issues in health care and research were discussed, including the Belmont Report standards and Institutional Review Board protocol. Students had the opportunity to review, critique, and produce work in accordance with scientific standards in the field. We used an alternating format, with research concepts taught one week followed the next week by a discussion of articles and their application to the chaplain's clinical work. Students cited research articles in conjunction with their verbatim presentations to demonstrate how an article illuminated or could be used to improve pastoral care. Apart from this, students also completed the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) On-Line Training, did and presented a comprehensive annotated bibliography of 12 articles, wrote article critiques, and took a quiz at the end of each unit. [For the full curriculum, click HERE.]

Some comments from evaluations from students about their participation in the research seminar:
  • "Gave me a general understanding of research methods and expanded my research language, so I can read research articles, understand them, and begin to apply them to my work with patients and staff care."
  • "Helped us improve communicating with interdisciplinary staff, specifically physicians."
  • "Allowed for chaplains to understand research initiatives and be invited in to participate in QI projects. I personally participated in a Pediatric Quality of Life QI project on the Pediatric Blood & Marrow Transplant Unit."
  • "Research curriculum boosted my resume when it came time to apply for jobs and I believe positively affected my interview for the job I accepted."


8.   Report from Michael Doane, Fairview CPE Center and Health System, Minneapolis, MN

The Fairview CPE Center and Spiritual Health Services applied for the Transforming Chaplaincy grant with a desire to educate incoming residents and existing staff chaplains to use research to inform spiritual interventions for patients and staff. The passion for research has existed within our departments for some time in the work and persons of palliative care chaplain Paul Galchutt, BCC, and ACPE Educator Karen Hutt. Paul and Karen would often energize our students and staff by sharing research articles, ideas, and outcomes. The Fairview Health System includes four CPE facilities, including the University of Minnesota Medical Center.

The grant provides a series of eight workshops led by four presenters from the University of Minnesota and Fairview's Nursing Excellence program. Each 1 1/2 hour workshop will be followed by lunch and a discussion period. During the regular schedule of two verbatim presentations, each CPE resident will demonstrate and reflect on ways in which research literacy might be used to inform case reflection. The first presented verbatim format will invite the student to search for a related article. The second will invite additional engagement through the use of selected portions of "Questions for Critically Reading a Research Article" (from the Research Program of the Department of Religion, Health, and Human Values at Rush University Medical Center).

Three concluding events will round out the course, and the program will be accountable in three vectors. The first two reflect internal accountability: of students to the staff and program, and the staff and program to the students. First, students' learning will culminate in a half-day final event wherein each of the two residency groups will demonstrate their learning through presentations to staff chaplains and interdisciplinary guests across the healthcare system. These presentations will offer a critical analysis of a research article chosen by the students presented at a system staff gathering. Second, a Likert scale based self-assessment tool will be given at the beginning and end of the curriculum, informing presenters of participants' perceived knowledge level and to measure students' own impressions of the effectiveness of the curriculum; this will facilitate the program and staff accountability to student experience. The third vector of accountability is external: a final exam, supplied by Transforming Chaplaincy, will be given to CPE residents to measure research literacy skill capability. A passing grade will be noted in their final evaluation.

The Fairview CPE Center and Spiritual Health Services are benefiting from Transforming Chaplaincy grant funds in other ways as well. Staff Chaplain Paul Galchutt was accepted into the second cohort group of Chaplain Research Fellows which began with a kickoff in July. The week prior to that event, System Director Michael Doane attended the Chaplain Research Summer Institute held at Rush University. Finally, a number of the department's staff chaplains are participating in Transforming Chaplaincy's online education courses. We are grateful to George Fitchett, Wendy Cadge, Kathy Lyndes and the many others who have helped provide these opportunities.


9.   Report from Michelle Oberwise-Lacock, Aurora Health Care, Milwaukee, WI (metropolitan area)

The Aurora Health Care Clinical Pastoral Education Center is located at four of the health system's Milwaukee metro area medical centers. We are excited to have received the Transforming Chaplaincy CPE curriculum development grant and are confident that this expansion of our CPE curriculum will increase and enhance the literacy in research for our supervisory education fellows, CPE residents, interns and staff chaplain mentors. The goals of Aurora's curriculum are to assist students and staff to understand research that is pertinent to spiritual care, to demonstrate how to locate research, and to analyze and assess the application of research in clinical work. The curriculum will be led by the Rev. Dr. Michelle Oberwise-Lacock, Supervisor, Clinical Pastoral Education at Aurora; the Rev. Jeff Uhler, staff chaplain; and nursing research educators.



10.   Review of Recent Progress in Chaplaincy-Related Research

There are a number of fine reviews of chaplaincy research,* but George Fitchett's "Recent Progress in Chaplaincy-Related Research," newly published in the Journal of Pastoral Care and Counseling [vol. 71, no. 3 (2017): 163-175], "provides an up to date resource that brings [other reviews'] information together both for practicing chaplains who are beginning to be curious about research and for those entering the profession who wish to become familiar with its research" [p. 163]. The article covers key studies (primarily from a US context), according to six thematic headings:

  1. what chaplains do
  2. the importance of religion and spiritual care to patients and families
  3. the impact of chaplains' spiritual care on the patient experience
  4. the impact of chaplain care on other patient outcomes
  5. spiritual needs and chaplain care in palliative and end of life care
  6. chaplain care for staff colleagues.
The author "concludes with a description of selected innovative and important studies that are important for the future of the profession" [p. 163], including studies indicating chaplains' interest in research.

This relatively brief article provides both an overall assessment of the state of the science and an up-to-date bibliographic source of 112 citations (including seven from 2017) worth exploring. The picture here is hopeful, in light of "encouraging developments in chaplaincy-related research...taking place" [p. 171]. Reviews like this aid in keeping the field of work in focus and in perspective and contribute to the formation of "a research agenda that will help the profession evaluate the care provided by chaplains and advocate for its benefits to patients, their loved ones, and healthcare systems" [p. 170].

* Other reviews noted in the Introduction section are:
Galek, K., Flannelly, K. J., Jankowski, K. R. and Handzo, G. F. "A methodological analysis of chaplaincy research: 2000-2009." Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy 17, nos. 3-4 (2011): 126-145.
Jankowski, K. R., Handzo, G. F. and Flannelly, K. J. "Testing the efficacy of chaplaincy care." Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy 17, nos. 3-4 (2011): 100-125.
Kalish, N. "Evidence-based spiritual care: a literature review." Current Opinion in Supportive & Palliative Care 6, no. 2 (June 2012): 242-246.
Lichter, D. A. "Studies show spiritual care linked to better health outcomes." Health Progress 94, no. 2 (March-April 2013): 62-66.
McCarroll, P. R. "Taking inventory and moving forward: a review of the research literature and assessment of qualitative research in JPCC, 2010-2014." Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling 69, no. 4 (December 2015): 222-231.
Morgan, M. Review of Literature: June 2015. Victoria, Australia: Spiritual Health Victoria, 2015. [Published online via (specifically at].
Mowat, H. The Potential for Efficacy of Healthcare Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care Provision in the NHS (UK): A Scoping Review of Recent Research." Aberdeen, Scotland: Mowat Research Ltd., 2008. [Available via the UK Board of Healthcare Chaplaincy at]
Pesut, B., Sinclair, S., Fitchett, G., Greig, M. and Koss, S. E. "Health care chaplaincy: a scoping review of the evidence 2009-2014." Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy 22, no. 2 (Apr-Jun 2016): 67-84.
Proserpio, T., Piccinelli, C. and Clerici, C. A. "Pastoral care in hospitals: a literature review." Tumori 97, no. 5 (September-October 2011): 666-671.


11.   2018 Muslim Mental Health Conference in Washington, DC

The Michigan State University Department of Psychiatry will present the 10th Annual Muslim Mental Health Conference, March 15-17, 2018, at the United States Institute for Peace in Washington, DC (2301 Constitution Ave.). The conference "brings together faith leaders, health care providers and researchers to examine topics related to mental health across the American Muslim community" [--from conference materials] and includes research presentations. The theme this year will be Out of the Shackles: Pursuit of Civil Justice in the Face of Psychological Trauma. For more information, including co-sponsors, see the conference web page. For a better sense of the conference series, see videos of presentations from the 2017 event, on the theme of Understanding Addiction among Muslim Populations.


12.   2018 European/British Joint Conference on Spirituality and Health

Forgiveness in Health, Medicine, and Social Sciences will be the main topic of the 6th European Conference on Religion, Spirituality and Health and the 5th International Conference of the British Association for the Study of Spirituality, as the two groups meet in a joint conference in Coventry, England, May 17-19, 2018. The event will be preceded by a pre-conference Research Workshop on Religion, Spirituality and Health, led by Harold G. Koenig, MD. The program is intended to "promote exchange and networking amongst researchers, health professionals and other experts from many nations" [--from conference materials]. For more information, see the conference website. Past conferences have included presentations by and about chaplains.



If you have suggestions about the form and/or content of the site, e-mail Chaplain John Ehman (Network Convener) at .
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