In previous centuries, faith and spirituality were integral to health and well-being: shamans, healers, and priests were often called upon to care for the sick and suffering. However, in recent history, a disconnect developed as science and spirituality morphed into separate schools of thought. Despite a recent reemergence of more holistic, whole-person care, a divide remains between clinical care and expert spiritual care. Patients and their families want their spiritual needs addressed as they navigate medical treatments.
In light of this need, the John Templeton Foundation has launched a 10-year initiative to advance spiritual care in clinical settings by awarding a $3 million grant to The George Washington University Institute for Spirituality & Health (GWish). This initial multi-year project will address the lack of clinician training in these matters and develop clinical models of spiritual care that can be tested, validated, and integrated into clinical practice. Just as palliative care for those facing serious illness has dramatically expanded in recent decades, there is an opportunity to implement spiritual care in many clinical settings and make it a standard practice.
The intersection of spirituality and health has garnered greater attention over the past two decades, and through this new initiative, scholars and clinicians will further demonstrate the positive impact of spiritual care on patient outcomes and wellbeing. Part of this project will expand spiritual care education and training, with potential to reach thousands of clinicians and chaplains.
The Advancing Spiritual Care project is based on twenty years of pioneering work at George Washington University’s Institute for Spirituality & Health (GWish). This research is a collaborative effort with longstanding partners, City of Hope (COH) and the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE). Both partner organizations are recognized leaders in spiritual care with established track records in practice, promotion, and policy impact.
“We are excited to support the launch of Advancing Spiritual Care,” said Nicholas Gibson, Director of Human Sciences at John Templeton Foundation.“Our vision—to make spiritual care as ubiquitous tomorrow as palliative care is today—will require significant resources to realize, and certainly more than we can support on our own. Our hope is that this initial effort will inspire other funders to join us in creating a future where the spiritual care that patients and their families are asking for is available and integrated with the rest of their health care.”