Research Publications

SHA staff and affiliated scholars have been involved as authors of the following publications (selected):


Chaplain Leadership During COVID-19: An International Expert Panel.

Author: Szilagyi, C., Vandenhoeck, A., Best, M., Desjardins, C., Drummond, D., Fitchett, G., Harrison, S., Haythorn, T., Holmes, C., Muthert, H., Nuzum, D., Verhoef, J., Willander, E.

Journal: Journal of Pastoral Care and Counselling (2021)

Summary:  This article looks at themes identified by an international expert panel who were brought together to inquire into chaplain leadership during the pandemic.



Religious or spiritual care: Identifying and addressing the breadth of spiritual needs.

Author: Cheryl Holmes. 

Editors: S. Nolan and A. Damen

Book: Transforming Chaplaincy: The George Fitchett Reader (2021) 209-217, Oregon: Pickwick Publications


Hospital-based spiritual care: what matters to patients?

Author: Jenny Advocat, Shiva Vasi, Leila Karimi, David Glenister, Cuong La and Cheryl Holmes. 

Journal: Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy (2021) 1-11.

Summary:  This study examines patient preferences for hospital chaplaincy provided by faith communities, and the importance of faith affiliation compared to other spiritual care provider characteristics.

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From Chaplaincy to Spiritual Care: Turning points for an emerging health profession.

Author: Cheryl Holmes. 

Journal: Asia Pacific Journal of Health Management (2021) Vol. 16 No. 4

Summary:  This study aimed to further understanding of the key influences and mechanisms for change to ensure safe and high-quality spiritual care provision in Australia by a qualified and credentialed workforce.

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"We Need to Learn from What we Have Learned!": The Possible Impact of Covid-19 on the Education and Training of Chaplains.

Author: Eleanor Flynn, Heather Tan and Anne Vandenhoeck

Journal: Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling (2021) 75(1_suppl): 37-40.

Summary:  This paper discusses the responses of the participants as they relate to education and training as well as suggesting new content and styles of education to meet the needs of chaplains in future similar events.

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Professional development for spiritual care practitioners: a program review.

Author: Heather Tan and Cheryl Holmes

Journal: Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy (2021) 1-15.

Summary: This article reports on the evaluation of a monthly professional development program, specifically for spiritual care practitioners, offered over the period 2017–2019 by Spiritual Health Association (Victoria, Australia) and its partners

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"Essential Not Optional": Spiritual Care in Australia during a Pandemic.

Author: Heather Tan, Cheryl Holmes, Eleanor Flynn and Leila Karimi

Journal: Journal of Pastoral Care Counseling (2021) 75(1_suppl): 41-45.

Summary:  This paper focuses on the impact of COVID19 in Australia. Three areas were investigated: professionalism, contrasting hospital and aged care services and “business as usual”? Impact was low overall, the timing being pre-second wave impact.

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"The Most Effective Experience was a Flexible and Creative Attitude" - Reflections on Those Aspects of Spiritual Care that were Lost, Gained or Deemed Ineffective during the Pandemic.

Author: Anne Vandenhoeck, Cheryl Holmes, Cate Michelle Desjardins, Joost Verhoef

Journal: Journal of Pastoral Care Counseling (2021) 75(1_suppl): 17-23.

Summary:  This paper presents and discusses data from three of the qualitative questions in the international COVID-19 survey.

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What Spirituality Means for Patients and Families in Health Care.

Author: Fiona Gardner, Heather Tan and Bruce Rumbold

Journal: Journal of Religion and Health (2020) 59(1): 195-203.

Summary:  Spirituality and health care; Patient and family experience of spirituality in health; Roles in spirituality in health care

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How is spiritual care/ pastoral care understood and provide in general hospitals in Victoria, Australia? - Staff perspectives

Author: Heather Tan, Bruce Rumbold, Fiona Gardner, David Glenister, Annie Forrest and Luke Bowen

Journal: Journal for the Study of Spirituality (2020) 10(2): 114-126.

Summary:  The aim of the study reported here was to explore the understanding and expectations of healthcare service staff, across the spectrum of staffing levels, in relation to the provision of spiritual care in their facility.

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Evaluating the Effectiveness of Frameworks Benchmarking for Quality Spiritual Care in Victoria, Australia.

Author: Christine Hennequin

Journal: Health and Social Care Chaplaincy (2020)

Summary: The Spiritual Care Minimum Data Set Framework provides a consistent way of collecting data in Victoria, and of benchmarking spiritual care services in several areas including governance, credentialing, and quality improvement processes.

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Is there a role for faith communities in the provision of spiritual care in health?

Author: Cheryl Holmes

Journal: Ethics, Medicine and Public Health, (2019) Volume 9, April–June, 7-11.

Summary: This article explores the role of faith communities in health care in the context of the changing demographics in Australia and the increasing numbers of people who nominate that they have no religious affiliation. It seeks to raise questions and to reflect on the changing models of spiritual care needed to meet the needs of current and future populations. 

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Stakeholder views on the role of spiritual care in Australian hospitals: an exploratory study

Author: Cheryl Holmes

Summary: Health Policy, (2018) 122, 389-395

Abstract: Research increasingly demonstrates the contribution of spiritual care to patient experience, wellbeing and health outcomes. Responsiveness to spiritual needs is recognised as a legitimate component of quality health care. Yet there is no consistent approach to the models and governance of spiritual care across hospitals in Australia. Further exploration of the contribution of spiritual care to wellbeing, health outcomes and patient experience is invited.

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Towards National Consensus: Spiritual Care in the Australian Healthcare Context

Author: Cheryl Holmes

Journal: Religions (2018), 9, 379

Summary: This article presents the outcomes from the National Consensus Conference Enhancing Quality and Safety: Spiritual Care in Health held in June 2017. Five principles for the design and delivery of spiritual care services and ten policy statements are presented. 

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Frames for the Future: Developing Continuing Education and Professional Development Programs for Spiritual Care Practitioners: A Perspective from Victoria Australia.

Author: Shinen Wong and Heather Tan

Journal: The Journal of Pastoral Care and Counselling (2017) 7 (4), 237-256.

Summary: This article examines the educational issues in ongoing professional education for spiritual care practitioners.  A meta-evaluation data over four years (2013-2016) of one such monthly program conducted by Spiritual Health Association was examined. Recommendations are made to support healthcare managers and spiritual care educators in designing and developing continuing education programs for spiritual care practitioners in a variety of other professional health and care contexts.

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Building Capacity for Spiritual Care and Wellbeing in the Mental Health Workforce

Author: Jenny Greenham and Cheryl Holmes

Journal: Newparadigm, The Australian Journal on Psychosocial Rehabilitation (2017) Summer, 11-15

Summary: This article describes the implementation and evaluation of a training program developed by Jenny for Spiritual Health Association and delivered to mental health workers in Gippsland. The East Gippsland Mental Health Initiative aimed to build the capacity of mental health workers to respond to the spiritual needs of their clients/patients. Its results, supported by other studies, show that workers can benefit from training in the area of spirituality and spiritual care, and that this could provide positive outcomes for clients/patients.

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Review of Literature June 2015

Author: Michelle Morgan & Cheryl Holmes

Summary: This document records a literature review undertaken in 2015 to assist us in the development of the collaborative research project with La Trobe University and six different healthcare facilities. The main topics reviewed are.

  • What do Spiritual Care Practitioners do? 
  • How is spiritual health measured? 
  • What are the outcomes of spiritual care? 
  • Spiritual care - a team approach 
  • How do spiritual care staff report their activities? 

The outcomes of the search of data in the period 2005-2015, over a broad range of data bases, has been divided into the above topics for easy access and where available, abstracts of relevant articles are recorded in tables in the appendices.

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For more information contact Cuong La.