Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Health Related Sciences

First Advisor

Diane Dodd-McCue, DBA

Second Advisor

Alexander Tartaglia, DMin

Third Advisor

Christine Reid, PhD

Fourth Advisor

Frederick Ryckman, MD

Fifth Advisor

Judy Ragsdale, PhD




by Kevin Eugene Adams, MDiv

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth University, 2015

Diane Dodd-McCue, D.B.A, Department of Patient Counseling

There is increasing emphasis on the importance of evidence-based care provided by all disciplines in healthcare. The Electronic Health Record (EHR) is becoming the standard for communicating assessments, plans of care, interventions, and outcomes of patient care. The spiritual care literature demonstrates the importance of assessing religious/spiritual needs and resources and developing plans of care to address the results of such assessment (Anandarajah & Hight, 2001; Borneman, Ferrell, & Puchalski, 2010; Fitchett, 1999; Fitchett & Risk, 2009; H. G. Koenig, 2007). This literature also suggests that addressing religious/spiritual needs of patients and families in the healthcare context can affect healthcare and adherence outcomes. The purpose of this study was to identify patterns of chaplain assessment and patterns of chaplain provision of services.

This descriptive study was an exploratory retrospective analysis of categorical data recorded by clinical staff chaplains in the EHR at a single all pediatric healthcare institution, using contingency tables and frequency tables. The study examined chaplain use of assessment and service descriptors and the patterns of these descriptors when documenting chaplain visits.

The results indicate chaplain preference for communicating in the EHR using general themes and concepts. This reveals an opportunity for chaplains to develop and implement a model of professional identity and articulation of care that is broad enough to accommodate the diversity of religion/spirituality chaplains encounter, yet able to articulate the specifics of patient and family religion/spirituality.

The results found no consistent patterns among assessments or services provided. Further, the results found no indication of patterns between assessments made and the services provided. This presents an opportunity for chaplains to develop and implement a theory-driven, construct-based model of care that will connect the different facets of spiritual care. The assessments made will lead to plans of care that involve specific interventions resulting in appropriate outcomes related to overall patient and family care.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission



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