Shining a light in COVID-19 darkness: the impact of hospital chaplaincy teams on health care professionals

BARBARA JACK, Jennifer Kirton, Karen Groves, Martin Abrams, Dominic Bray, Mari Lloyd-Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review


Introduction: A COVID-19 global pandemic, declared in March 2020 by the World Health Organisation, resulted in travel restrictions, closure of non-essential shops and services, and discontinuation of elective health care. Escalation of the pandemic impacted on hospital healthcare professionals who experienced deaths of colleagues, and unprecedented changes in working conditions. One area that received media attention in the UK, during the pandemic, was the role of the Hospital Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care Teams.
Methods: An exploratory study was advertised via social media, the press and professional bodies resulted in 86 healthcare professionals and 63 chaplains, who had worked clinically, in the UK, during the pandemic, completing an open free text electronic survey. Seven chaplains participated in a follow up telephone interview, with all data collected in 2022.
Results: Survey demographic data were analysed using descriptive statistics. Free text responses and interviews were subject to thematic analysis.
The focus on support of health professionals was widely reported by all respondents. Two overarching themes were identified: [1] Organisational initiatives with sub themes of structural and virtual support and [2] Proactive –‘going to the front line’, with sub themes of: emotional and spiritual support, moral support, and practical input
Discussion/Conclusion: The overarching finding was that hospital chaplains were alongside staff on the clinical frontline. Staff described this as invaluable in the immediacy of support and providing a valued presence. The chaplain’s role changed to becoming more focused on staff support, which appears to be ongoing, thus impacting on the future role and training for hospital chaplaincy teams.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth and Social Care Chaplaincy
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 19 Mar 2024


  • COVID-19
  • survey
  • qualitative data
  • chaplains
  • health care staff
  • hospitals


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