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UvH starts study into chaplaincy in first-line care in primary healthcare


15 November 2018


Many patients visit their family doctor with complaints and issues that actually require a heart-to-heart conversation. But how does the doctor determine whether to offer this conversation personally, or to refer the person to someone else? And then how does the doctor decide whether the patient would best be served by seeing a psychologist, a chaplain, or a volunteer with a listening ear? To find a practical answer to these questions, the University of Humanistic Studies is launching a three-year study in Utrecht, Amsterdam and Rotterdam, in cooperation with local family doctor centres that are already trying to incorporate attention for matters of meaning into professional care.


The goal is to develop a referral tool for general practitioners and chaplains in the three centres, to facilitate their cooperation with other professionals, to measure the effects of this approach, and to identify the successful factors which can also be applied in other centres and settings.


The study is financed by ZonMW and is headed by professor of Care Ethics, Professor Carlo Leget, in collaboration with the VIAA and Windesheim universities of applied sciences (both in Zwolle). The project group furthermore comprises PhD student Annelieke Damen MA and Dr Carmen Schuhmann (UvH); Dr René van Leeuwen and Dr Carriene Roorda-Lukkien (VIAA), Dr Theo van Leeuwen (Windesheim), and Marc Rietveld MA (VGVZ). 


The project is part of a larger project titled Palliatief Landelijk Onderzoek Eerstelijns Geestelijke verzorging (PLOEG; ‘palliative national study chaplaincy in primary health care’). Several universities are collaborating in this project to better integrate chaplaincy care in primary health care. Besides the project in which the University is involved (PLOEG-3), Professor Hetty Zock (RUG) is leading a project devoted to a nationwide survey of initiatives in this field (PLOEG-1), while Dr Sjaak Körver (TST) is setting up an intervention study (PLOEG-2).


The approval to fund the study coincides with the announcement by Public Health Minister Hugo de Jonge that an extra 25 million euros will be devoted to chaplaincy care as part of home care. Until now, chaplaincy care was only remunerated when part of institutional care, such as in a hospital or nursing home. The professional association VGVZ, which has advocated this wider remuneration for years, has greeted this as a breakthrough for chaplaincy care.


Many patients visit their family doctor with complaints and issues that actually require a heart-to-heart conversation. But how does the doctor determine whether to offer this conversation personally, or to refer the person to someone else? And then how does the doctor decide whether the patient would best be served by seeing a psychologist, a chaplain, or a volunteer with a listening ear? To find a practical answer to these questions, the University of Humanistic Studies is launching a three-year study in Utrecht, Amsterdam and Rotterdam, in cooperation with local family doctor centres that are already trying to incorporate attention for spiritual care into professional care.