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Learning spiritual care in Dutch hospitals

the impact on healthcare of patients in palliative trajectories
PhD ceremony:Mr J. van de Geer
When:December 21, 2017
Start:11:00
Supervisors:prof. dr. T.H. (Hetty) Zock, C.J.W. Leget, Vissers, K.C.P.
Co-supervisor:J. Prins
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Theology and Religious Studies
Learning spiritual care in Dutch hospitals

November 2017 saw the publication of the Guideline Spiritual Care 2.0 for the daily practice of palliative care. The Guideline defines how caregivers should interpret 'attention for the spirituality of patients (and their proxies) with a life-threatening disease'. For the implementation of a guideline, training is a crucial first step. In the practice-building study reported in this dissertation  we investigated whether a short training programme could effect enough improvement.In a multicentre trial executed in nine top-tier clinical hospitals, in wards where patients were treated in both curative and palliative trajectories, 374 doctors and nurses were trained by health care chaplains in the implementation of the Guideline in 2014-2015. For patients and caregivers the effects of the training were measured via quantitative methods, for health care chaplains via interviews.

The results indicate that within the limited time available for training it is definitely possible to improve the quality of care as experienced by palliative patients. From the interviews with the chaplains a number of critical success factors could be distilled. Moreover, implementation of the Guideline was found to improve the visibility and professional profile of health care chaplains.

Also, there appeared to be less resistance to spiritual care, and six months after training nurses' competencies remained significantly improved. The training will have to be adapted to doctors' daily practice, if it is to have a comparable effect on doctors' competencies.