Spiritual care has long been an important part of health care, but now health care experts are beginning to measure it with the goal of being able to interpret the impact of spiritual care on health outcomes. Dr. Tim Daaleman is part of a panel who recently developed the first evidence-based measures for quality spiritual care.

Dr. Tim Daaleman, Vice Chair of UNC Family Medicine, is a member of a distinguished, international panel of experts convened by HealthCare Chaplaincy Network (HCCN) to develop the most comprehensive evidence-based indicators that demonstrate the quality of spiritual care in health care, in a move aimed at advancing optimal spiritual support and meeting the needs of patients, their families, and health care institutions. The statement provides guidance to professional health care associations, administrators, clinical teams, researchers, spiritual care providers, and other stakeholders worldwide on the indicators of high-quality spiritual care, the metrics that indicate such care is present, and evidence-based tools to measure that quality.

In addition, spiritual care joins other health care disciplines that are directed by specific quality indicators.

“We believe these evidence-based quality indicators are a game-changer,” said Rev. Eric J. Hall, HCCN’s president and CEO. “They speak to health care’s emphasis on value over volume of services. Being able to identify value in specific situations will help elevate the importance of spiritual care as part of whole-person care, casting aside perceptions and anecdotes about its impact in favor of indicators that can solidly demonstrate quality of care and outcomes.”

The set of 18 quality indicators include spiritual care that reduces spiritual distress, increases client satisfaction, and facilitates meaning-making for clients and family members. Some of the indicators that might be looked for in an audit include:

  • What percentage of patients are documented as having been offered a discussion of religious/spiritual concerns?
  • What percentage of patients has a spiritual assessment and care plan documented?
  • What is the percentage of family meetings in which documentation shows that the family was offered a discussion of spiritual issues?

For the complete statement, “What Is Quality Spiritual Care in Health Care and How Do You Measure It?” as well as a list of panel members, visit www.healthcarechaplaincy.org/research.