Chaplains Work in Primary Care

Austyn Snowden (Lead / Corresponding author), Iain Telfer, Anne Vandenhoeck, Joost Verhoef, Alan Gibbon

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    Health is holistic, but health services are often not. Primary care is the first point of contact for patients in the UK, and at least two in every three present with complex bio-psycho-socio-economic issues. In Scotland, the Community Chaplaincy Listening (CCL) service was created to see if chaplains could help. CCL involves specially trained chaplains listening to patients referred to them by general practitioners (GP) for spiritual support. Between 2018 and 2019, 143 people used CCL and completed baseline and post-discharge outcome measures. Mean Scottish PROM scores rose from 7.94 (± 3.4) at baseline to 12 (± 3.5) post discharge, a statistically and clinically significant rise of 4.06 (95% CI, 3-5.12), t(50) = 7.7, p < 0.0001, d = 1.08. The improvement was seen whether patients self-described as religious, spiritual, both, or neither. Health-related quality of life outcomes were mixed but patients referred to the service scored some of the lowest baseline EQ-5D-3L scores ever seen in the literature. Together these results suggest that CCL worked in primary care, especially for patients historically considered "difficult to treat." Limitations of the study are considered alongside implications for commissioners and service developers.

    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages19
    JournalJournal of Health Care Chaplaincy
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Jun 2022


    • Chaplain
    • measurement
    • outcome
    • primary care
    • quantitative


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