A survey of chaplains' roles in pediatric palliative care: integral members of the team.J Health Care Chaplain 2012; 18(1-2):74-93JH
To date, the field of health care chaplaincy has had little information about how pediatric palliative care (PPC) programs meet the spiritual needs of patients and families. We conducted a qualitative study consisting of surveys of 28 well-established PPC programs in the United States followed by interviews with medical directors and professional chaplains in 8 randomly selected programs among those surveyed. In this report, we describe the PPC chaplain activities, evidence regarding chaplain integration with the PPC team, and physician and chaplain perspectives on the chaplains' contributions. Chaplains described their work in terms of processes such as presence, while physicians emphasized outcomes of chaplains' care such as improved communication. Learning to translate what they do into the language of outcomes will help chaplains improve health care colleagues' understanding of chaplains' contributions to care for PPC patients and their families. In addition, future research should describe the spiritual needs and resources of PPC patients and families and examine the contribution chaplains make to improved outcomes for families and children facing life-limiting illnesses.