Assessing the Perceived Value of Spiritual Care to the Catholic Health Care System

Caterina Mako, Fordham University


Personal experience and clinical research indicate that patients want their spiritual concerns addressed when they receive medical care. This fact aligns with Catholic incarnational theology, which places a high value on caring for the soul in conjunction with the body. Attention to the transcendent element of persons extends beyond the patients to include loved ones, clinical staff, and other personnel engaged in the Catholic Church’s ministry of healing. The past several decades have witnessed a national shift and reorganization in Catholic health care. The Catholic system that is the subject of this study has also been reorganized, and is transitioning from leadership by the women religious of the founding congregations to lay leadership. One result of this transition is that spiritual care services has become a specialized ministry with a separate department. This project studies the relationship between the perceptions of current lay executive leadership at the organization level and the support for spiritual care services. The entire leadership team participated in a semi-structured interview. The interview was recorded and transcribed, and content analysis was performed. Four themes emerged that shape the leadership’s valuation of spiritual care. These are: the experience of the executive, the importance of spiritual care, quality improvement and culture change. The findings indicate that spiritual care services are highly valued but not well understood by executive leadership. The leadership is supportive of increasing the profile and accountability of spiritual care services throughout the system. Spiritual care services is included in the system’s long term strategic planning. Based on this study’s findings, a plan of action has been created to guide the development of spiritual care over a five year period, which the executive leadership of the system has committed to implement.

Subject Area

Spirituality|Management|Religious history

Recommended Citation

Mako, Caterina, "Assessing the Perceived Value of Spiritual Care to the Catholic Health Care System" (2018). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI27739041.