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Integrating chaplaincy into healthcare: a survey shows providers are interested in technology-based options
  1. John Yohan Rhee1,2,
  2. Vinh-tung Nguyen3,
  3. Rafael Goldstein4,
  4. Vansh Sharma5 and
  5. Deborah Marin5
  1. 1 Medical Education, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, USA
  2. 2 Institute for Culture and Society, University of Navarra, Pamplona, Navarra, Spain
  3. 3 Internal Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York, USA
  4. 4 Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains (NAJC), Paramus, New Jersey, USA
  5. 5 Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to Mr John Yohan Rhee, 50 E. 98th St, Apt 11C-2, New York, NY 10029, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; john.yohan.rhee{at}

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Spiritual care can be an important source of support for patients dealing with chronic or terminal illnesses, and it is a key component of palliative care.1 Studies have shown that patients would like more frequent discussions on religion and spirituality (R/S) while in the hospital,2 3 but many patients do not have the chance to do so. One way to ensure that R/S is addressed during a hospital stay is via chaplain referrals. One study showed that chaplain visits are associated with increased patient satisfaction, and patients more often endorsed that staff met their emotional and spiritual needs,4 although research shows differences among professionals in chaplaincy referral rates; nurses have been shown to have higher likelihood of referring than physicians and social workers (SWs).5

With the advent of the electronic health record (EHR), we felt it was important to explore whether or not healthcare professionals (HCPs) are interested in technology for requesting chaplains, and therefore improve access to spiritual care for patients. In fact, some initial research shows potential benefits of using electronic means to better identify and target patients in need of a chaplain visit,6 and one innovative palliative care service using pagers for referrals was reported as highly valuable by nurses to patients and the clinical team.7

Here, we report results from a quality improvement (QI) project aimed at improving chaplaincy referrals, and therefore spiritual care, at a major academic centre in New York City, with a focus on gauging interest in …

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  • Contributors All authors were involved in the project conception and design, data review and interpretation of the data, and editing and writing of the manuscript. JYR and VN were involved in data collection and data analysis.

  • Funding This work was supported by the 2014 Department of Medicine Advancing Clinical Excellence in Medicine (ACEM) Training Grant. Funding source aided in study design.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Mount Sinai IRB.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement The primary author can be contacted by email ( to obtain information on data used for the study.

  • Correction notice 1