Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 57, Issue 3, pp 1183–1195 | Cite as

The Role of Healthcare Chaplains in Resuscitation: A Rapid Literature Review

  • Fiona Timmins
  • Nicolas Pujol
Original Paper


Spirituality is becoming of increasing importance in the international healthcare context. While patients’ spirituality or faith is often overlooked, there is a growing awareness that understanding, addressing and supporting patients’ spiritual and faith needs can influence healthcare outcomes. This review aims to illuminate this role and highlight healthcare chaplains’ potential in relation to the provision of pastoral support for families during and after patient resuscitation, and the dearth of interdisciplinary education in this field. A rapid structured review was undertaken using four databases—PubMed, CINAHL, PsycINFO and ATLA. Primary research studies published during the 10-year period 2007–2017 written in English addressing the chaplain’s role or perceived role in resuscitation were included. An initial search using key terms yielded 18 relevant citations. This reduced to 11 once duplicates were removed. Ultimately five relevant primary research studies were included in the final analysis. This review found few studies that directly explored the topic. Certainly many view the chaplain as a key member of the resuscitation team, although this role has not been fully explored. Chaplains likely have a key role in supporting families during decisions about ‘not for resuscitation’ and in supporting families during and after resuscitation procedures. Chaplains are key personnel, already employed in many healthcare organisations, who are in a pivotal position to contribute to future developments of spiritual and pastoral care provision and support. Their role at the end of life, despite well described and supported, has received little empirical support. There is an emerging role for chaplains in healthcare ethics, supporting end-of-life decisions and supporting family witnessed resuscitation where relevant. Their role needs to be more clearly understood by medical staff, and chaplain’s input into undergraduate medical education programmes is becoming vital.


Spirituality Healthcare Chaplains Healthcare Resuscitation 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Nursing and Midwifery StudiesTrinity College DublinDublin 2Ireland
  2. 2.Laval UniversityQuebecCanada

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