The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
RAP conceived the study and, with LE and GH (who led on data acquisition and analysis), participated in its design and helped draft the manuscript. All authors contributed to the analysis and interpretation of data, and read, contributed to, and approved the final manuscript.
Despite recognition of the centrality of professional board-certified chaplains (BCC) in palliative care, the discipline has little research to guide its practices. To help address this limitation, HealthCare Chaplaincy Network funded six proposals in which BCCs worked collaboratively with established researchers. Recognizing the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in the development of a new field, this paper reports on an exploratory study of project members’ reflections over time on the benefits and challenges of conducting inter-disciplinary spiritual care research.
Data collection occurred in two stages. Stage 1 entailed two independent, self-reflective focus groups, organized by professional discipline, mid-way through the site projects. Stage 2 entailed end-of-project site reports and a conference questionnaire.
Eighteen professionals participated in the group discussions. Stage 1: researchers perceived chaplains as eager workers passionately committed to their patients and to research, and identified challenges faced by chaplains in learning to conduct research. Chaplains perceived researchers as passionate about their work, were concerned research might uncover negative findings for their profession, and sensed they used a dissimilar paradigm from their research colleagues regarding the ‘ways of relating’ to knowledge and understanding.
Stage 2: researchers and chaplains noted important changes they ascribed to the interdisciplinary collaboration that were classified into six domains of cultural and philosophical understanding: respect; learning; discovery; creativity; fruitful partnerships; and learning needs.
Chaplains and researchers initially expressed divergent perspectives on the research collaborations. During the projects’ lifespans, these differences were acknowledged and addressed. Mutual appreciation for each discipline’s strengths and contributions to inter-professional dialogue emerged.
The Joint Commission. Advancing Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient- and Family-Centered Care: A Roadmap for Hospitals. Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois; The Joint Commission 2010.
Weller J, Boyd M, Cumin D. Teams, tribes and patient safety: overcoming barriers to effective teamwork in healthcare. Postgrad Med. 2014;90:149–54. CrossRef
- Transcending differences to study the transcendent: an exploratory study of researchers’ and chaplains’ reflections on interdisciplinary spiritual care research collaboration
Richard A Powell
Laura B Dunn
Ellen L Idler
Diane J Wilkie
William T Summerfelt
Marilyn JD Barnes
Tammie E Quest
Annette K Olsen
Tracy A Balboni
- BioMed Central
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