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Spiritual Care

What is Spiritual Care?

The WHO definition of palliative care includes spiritual care, to address the spiritual and/or religious needs of patients and their families and caregivers in all settings.

Our Reference Group developed the following working definition:
“Spirituality is the dynamic dimension of human life that relates to the way persons (individual and community) experience, express and/or seek meaning, purpose and transcendence, and the way they connect to the moment, to self, to others, to nature, to the significant and/or the sacred.”

Spirituality and spiritual wellbeing are multidimensional, including:
Existential challenges (questions and issues such as identity, meaning, suffering, despair, guilt, shame, reconciliation and forgiveness, freedom and responsibility, hope, love, and joy).
Value based considerations and attitudes (what matters most to each person, such as relationships with oneself, and with family, friends, work, nature, art and culture, ethics and morals, and life itself).
Religious considerations and foundations (faith, beliefs and practices, relationship with God or the ultimate).

What does our Spiritual Care Reference Group do?

Our Reference Group started in 2010 as a multidisciplinary Task Force aiming to encourage, develop and implement spiritual care methods and standards for adequately addressing the spiritual needs of patients, and informal and formal caregivers in all palliative care settings. We became a Reference Group in 2019, focusing on developing evidence-based care models and practices, and promote high quality education.

Our Reference Group connects all health and social care professionals, chaplains, social scientists, researchers, educators, and links with other EAPC taskforces and groups, seeking to develop and disseminate knowledge, research initiatives, educational developments, and implementation projects.

We are actively looking to develop commitment and cooperation between national member organisations of the EAPC and other dedicated national and international institutions. We encourage all EAPC members to support spirituality and spiritual care in palliative care through research, education, and implementation.

group chairs spiritual care Marie-José H.E. Gijsberts and Bella Vivat

The Reference Group is chaired by Marie-José H.E. Gijsberts, End-of-Life Care Research Group, Belgium and Bella Vivat, Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Department, University College London, UK.

Group resources

Gijsberts, M.J.H., 2022. Spiritual Care in Palliative Care: A Physician’s Perspective. Religions, 13(4), p.323.

Spiritual care education: results from an EAPC survey EJPC 2015 22 2

Best, M et al. (2020). An EAPC white paper on multi-disciplinary education for spiritual care in palliative care. BMC Palliat Care 19, 9.

(EAPC Board approved copy here)

Gijsberts, M.J.H. et al. (2019). Spiritual Care in Palliative Care: A Systematic Review of the Recent European Literature. Med Sci

Vivat, B et al. (2023). What do palliative care professionals understand as spiritual care? Findings from an EAPC survey. Religions, 14(3): 298.

Spiritual care in palliative care: working towards an EAPC Task Force EJPC 2011 18 2

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