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Winter 2010 Newsletter

On-Line Newsletter Volume 8, Number 2
Published February 28, 2010

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, Winter, and Spring-Summer.


Table of Contents

  1. Annual Network Meeting, April 23, 2010
  2. Update on Research at Virginia Commonwealth University's Program in Patient Counseling
  3. Research at Johns Hopkins
  4. More Thoughts on "A CPE Research Question...," from a Nurse and Life Coach
  5. New Initiative for CPE Student Research at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
  6. Spirituality & Health Summer Workshops at Duke
  7. Instrument Development: Introductory Resources
  8. Research Postings at PlainViews
  9. Australian Journal of Pastoral Care and Health Online


1.     Annual Network Meeting, April 23, 2010

Our annual Network meeting will be on Friday, April 23, 2010, at 4:30 PM, in the Kansas City Downtown Marriott Hotel, Kansas City, KS, during the ACPE's national conference. Please send agenda items to the Convener at Standing items on the agenda include discussion of the web site, membership, the promotion of research in the ACPE, and individual projects.

A flyer about the Network will be part of the ACPE's conference packet, as has been the practice for the last several years. Members are also encouraged to place on the general conference information tables material about their own research initiatives.


2.     Update on Research at Virginia Commonwealth University's Program in Patient Counseling

A chaplain resident’s research project serves as the basis for a new alumni survey by VCU’s Program in Patient Counseling. The new survey was developed by Ginny Taylor (currently a chaplain at the University of Virginia Hospital) during an independent study with Patient Counseling faculty

CPE sites are sought for replication of a video-based hospital orientation program used with CPE students. The orientation program is described in "Enhancing Student Engagement and Critical Thinking During Hospital Orientation for Level 1 CPE Students" (by Tartaglia, et al.), which appeared in Chaplaincy Today 25, no. 1 (Spring/Summer 2009): available freely online. Please contact Dr. Alexander Tartaglia ( for more details.

Chaplain residents (Vivian Wright, Marian Boyer, Greg Compton, Boris Kizzie, Joshua Andrezejewski) are involved in Quality Improvement/"Best Practices" projects as a major assignment in the VCU Masters Program in Patient Counseling. These projects emphasize application of appropriate research methodologies to a significant topic involving chaplains in a clinical area. Information on the class assignment is available from Dr. Diane Dodd-McCue ( Information on the final projects will be available in May.

"Behavioral Research in Hospital Settings: The Family Communication Coordinator (FCC) Protocol and Research Applications in Organ Donation" appears in Understanding Organ Donation: Applied Behavioral Science Perspectives [ed. by Siegel, J. T. and Alvaro, E. M. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), see pp. 151-163], the most recent edition to the Claremont Graduate University Series on applied research. This chapter, written by Dr. Diane Dodd-McCue, details research conducted by VCU’s Patient Counseling faculty on the impact of a protocol developed and used with potential organ donor cases since 1997. [Editor's Note: A 25-minute video of a 2007 presentation on this subject by Dr. Dodd-McCue is available freely from the Claremont Colleges Digital Library by clicking HERE.]

"The Costs of Caring: Compassion Fatigue and Health Care Management," was submitted to the 2010 Academy of Management by Dr. Diane Dodd-McCue for inclusion in its annual conference, August 9th-10th, in Montreal, Canada.. The Academy of Management ( is the premier professional association of academic researchers in the management and organizational sciences. Its 2010 conference theme is Dare to Care, a call to incorporate thoughtful consideration of the rationale underlying management practice and research with consideration of stakeholder perspectives. Although compassion fatigue is a recognized concept in pastoral care, this represents an opportunity to introduce it to other disciplines.

--submitted by Diane Dodd-McCue, Associate Professor, VCU’s Program in Patient Counseling


3.     Research at Johns Hopkins

Like all academic medical centers, Johns Hopkins’ mission is service, education and research. Pastoral Care and Clinical Pastoral Education at Johns Hopkins mirrors this mission in its ministry. In the past year, a partnership has developed between the Department of Pastoral Care and the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit physicians. This partnership began when Pamela Donahue, ScD, and a researcher in the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit, partnered with the pastoral care department to present research on staff referrals to pastoral care in the NICU as well as the use of pastoral care resources for staff in the NICU. Both referrals and staff use of pastoral care dramatically increased when a chaplain was assigned to the unit for daily interactions and relationship building. This collaboration for a poster grew into a study of how neonatologists use spirituality in their work with families. The primary research question was whether spirituality and religion were part of the process of physician decision-making. The data in the paper was surprisingly unsupportive of this theory. In fact, physicians self-reported that their religion or spirituality did not impact their decision making. Another hypothesis was that these same factors might influence the options offered to parents at end-of-life, including life sustaining therapies or palliation. Again, this did not appear to be true from the data collected. Previous research supported the hypothesis, so the data collected was surprising. A paper with these results has been submitted to the Journal of Palliative Car for publication. The team of collaborators including Renee Boss, MD, Sue Alcott, MD, Elizabeth Keen, MA and Rev. Paula Teague, DMin, will continue to mine the data for further publication and possible follow-up.

--submitted by Rev. Dr. Paula J. Teague, Manager of CPE at Johns Hopkins


4.     More Thoughts on "A CPE Research Question...," from a Nurse and Life Coach --by Dan Wimer, RN, BA, MPLC

[Editor's Note: While our Network is centered around the ACPE, our readers -- and some of our active members -- come from many different quarters. Dan Wimer is a good example.]

As a nurse and a Life Coach, I wonder: How do we know that our clients really understand us? Is our communication effective? How much time do we spend with our clients asking the right questions?

When I saw the article: "A CPE Research Question…" in the Fall 2009 ACPE Research Network Newsletter [vol. 8, no. 1 (October, 29, 2009): §2], I thought that the question, "Out of everything we have talked about today, what has been the most helpful?" was an interesting idea for a tool to aid chaplains, pastors, social workers, all kinds of therapists, counselors, and--in my case--Life Coaches. I spent 22 years as an RN in home health/psychiatry.

Time is money. I always felt pressured, by time and bosses, to see the next client as soon as possible. There are so many people who need our help, and there seems so little time to help them. I took verbal shortcuts in order to finish my paperwork by midnight.

A tool based on the proposed question could, however, be used quickly to find if we are communicating in a helpful manner with clients, and it encourages us to look at our clients as human beings rather than as numbers for fill-in-the-blanks. Such a tool could also be useful to anyone for his or her own enlightenment, self assessment, and/or as an accountability measure.

I have adapted the original instructions for the tool, which were geared to students in a chaplaincy program. The modified instructions reflect a more general purpose for this form. I give some guidance about keeping track of the clients by creating IDs, and I have also made clear that the IDs of the subjects would be removed in the final draft of a report.

On the original assessment form, there were two core items. The first -- "The verbatim patient response to the question" -- I have reworded as "The client’s response to the question," because I believe that many who would fill out this form would do so after the fact to such an extent that they would have difficulty remembering the verbatim response. The second item -- "Your observations about the response? How will it make a difference in your pastoral practice?" -- I have split into two separate items: "Your observations about the response," and "What do you find new or surprising, if anything, about your reaction to the question?" The latter considers, in other words, what was learned from asking the principal question. I also redesigned the assessment sheet to put the client demographics at the top and the reviewer demographics at the bottom.

I can use your help as I develop research with this tool, since I have no grants or funding beyond my own personal resources. What I am looking for are volunteers to use my revised tool in their work, so I can build a study with more data points. If you are interested, please e-mail me at

[Dan Wimer is semi-retired since his third stroke. He and his wife are Life Coaches. They live in, Zephyrhills, FL, near Tampa Bay, and say they enjoy watching weather reports about how much snow is falling elsewhere.]


5.     New Initiative for CPE Student Research at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (Brunswick, NJ) is implementing a research component in its CPE Residency program. Our Residents are fortunate to have expert consultation from former CPE graduate, May Chen, PhD, a research psychologist who worked with Harold Koenig and now works for City University in New York. Our Residents plan to start research projects that answer questions raised in their chaplaincy service. We have introduced all of our CPE students to the Articles-of-the-Month, Newsletters, and other rich resources available to us through the Research Network.

--submitted by John DeVelder, Director, Pastoral Care Services, RWJUH


6.     Spirituality & Health Summer Workshops at Duke

For the seventh year, the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health ( at Duke University will be presenting workshops on spirituality & health research, July 19-23 and August 16-20, 2010. These intensive, five-day workshops cover material from postdoctoral fellowship curricula and include individual mentorship by faculty. Enrollments are limited to 20 students. Participants usually include a mix of professional researchers and people who simply want to understand more about the field of religion/spirituality& health. Chaplains are regular attendees. For more information, go to


7.     Instrument Development: Introductory Resources

Questions about instrument development come to the Network regularly, mostly from CPE students investigating methodology options for research projects. Many highly technical resources are available in the field of psychometrics, but students seem to have difficulty finding basic material to give them a sense of the task. One online resource -- not aimed at chaplains but providing good, basic information -- is Colorado State University's Writing Guide for Survey Research ( The site offers very straightforward topical overviews, including designing and conducting surveys, analyzing and reporting results, validity and reliability issues, response rate issues, ethics, and advantages and disadvantages of survey methodologies.

Also, two articles that may a be of special interest: First, a brief consideration of questionnaire methodology, "Hands-on guide to questionnaire research; selecting, designing, and developing your questionnaire," by Petra M Boynton and Trisha Greenhalgh, appeared in the May 29, 2004 issue of the British Medical Journal [vol. 328, pp. 1312-1315]. Be sure to access the supplementary material to the article, available online from BMJ at [The article itself appears to be available online at the University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine.] Second, "Survey methodology for the uninitiated," by Cristen R. Wall, Mark J. DeHaven and Kevin C. Oeffinger, from the June 2002 issue of the Journal of Family Practice [vol. 51, no. 6] may be harder for chaplaincy students to relate to, but it's href="http://" target="_blank">available freely online from the journal website.

Since spirituality/religion is such a sensitive topic for research, student's about this may be aided by reading, "Conducting surveys on sensitive topics," by John H. Pryor, in the Spring 2004 issue of New Directions for Institutional Research [no. 121, pp. 39-50].

In addition, students may want to review the CPE student handout, "Problems with Questions: Thinking Critically about Questionnaire Items," which appeared in our Network's Winter 2002 Newsletter.

[Supervisors, please share what resources you've found helpful to introduce your students to the task of instrument development. E-mail .]


8.     Research Postings at PlainViews

Network members are encouraged to visit regularly the PlainViews website (, especially the articles on Research & Education. This online publication of the HealthCare Chaplaincy is an excellent forum for the exchange of ideas and a convenient track to publish brief articles or summarize an article published elsewhere. A sampling of recent postings under the Research & Education section:

  • Fitchett, G., "Making Our Case: A New Study Provides Evidence of the Beneficial Effects of Pastoral Care"
  • Fitchett, G., "Physicians’ Satisfaction with Chaplains"
  • Flannelly, K. J., "Chaplains and End-of-Life Research"
  • Flannelly, K. J., "How Standards of Practice can Guide Research"
  • Galek, K. and Flannelly, K. J., "A New Study Examining the Efficacy of Prayer"
  • Johnson, K. D., "A Summary of Neural Components of Religious/Spiritual Coping"
  • Scott, M., "Becoming Research Informed: a Practical Application"
  • Stouder, D. B., "Family, Friends, and Faith"


9.     Australian Journal of Pastoral Care and Health Online

The biannual pastoral journal, The Australian Journal of Pastoral Care and Health (, is available freely online, with the goal of promoting "professional practice, education, research, spiritual development and advocacy in pastoral care and chaplaincy in healthcare and other community settings" [--from the website]. While this publication is intended for an Australian audience, the value of its articles certainly extends to the international chaplaincy community. One of the principal articles in the December 2009 edition is "FACT, a New Spiritual Screening Tool," by Mark Larocca-Pitts, PhD, Director of Pastoral Care at Athens Regional Medical Center, Athens, GA. Chaplain LaRocca Pitts presents the FACT (Faith, Availability, Coping, Treatment) tool in vis-ŕ-vis five others. The journal includes a regular section focusing on research --see articles in previous issues. The next issue, due out in Spring 2010, is slated to include material from the February national conference of the Australian Health and Welfare Chaplains Association (NB: The AHWCA Constitution states that one of its purposes is "to conduct and encourage research in areas relating to chaplaincy").


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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The ACPE Research Network. All rights reserved.