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 z1WJC Five-Part Series, Finding Meaning in Illness, Injury and Loss:The Role of Religion and Spirituality
Presented by George Fitchett PhD BCC
and Sr. Patricia Murphy PhD BCC

A series of five 60-minute webinar sessions
5 CE hours, plus reading/self-study hours - Methodology 8, Research

$275/member; $455/nonmember
Item Number: WebRWJC
Shipping Weight: 0lbs. 0oz.
Price: $455.00
This Webinar Journal Club series is designed to help chaplains with no prior experience learn to read and understand research. In addition, it will introduce research-literate chaplains to important research about meaning-making in the face of illness.

Copies of the articles are made available to participants.

When you purchase this webinar recording series, you will receive a link that will enable you to watch the recording and access supplemental materials directly from our web page. You'll be able to hear and see the complete presentation, including Q&A with the audience.

Session Content

1. Parents' Use of Religion to Make Meaning of a Child's Diagnosis

Many people draw on religion to find meaning in the face of serious illness. Using qualitative methods, the paper we discuss this month describes key themes in the religious meaning-making of 15 parents whose children were newly diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. The study was led by chaplain-researcher Daniel Grossoehme and introduces Kenneth Pargament's important work on religious coping.

- Clinical Focus: Parents of children newly diagnosed with cystic fibrosis

- Study Methods/Design: Qualitative methods

- Reference: Grossoehme DH, Ragsdale J, Wooldridge JL, Cotton S, Seid M. "We Can Handle This: Parents' Use of Religion in the First Year Following Their Child's Diagnosis with Cystic Fibrosis." Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy. 2010 Jul;16(3-4):95-108.

- To read this article go to:

2. Spiritual Screening - Using Just One Question

This study shows that simply by asking, "Are you at peace?" busy clinicians may be able to identify patients with spiritual needs who should be referred to a chaplain. The paper we discuss this month reports the use of this question with 248 patients near the end of their life but the question could be used in many other clinical contexts. The article also introduces a team doing important research on quality of life at the end of life.

- Clinical Focus: Patients at the end of life

- Study Methods/Design: Cross-sectional survey

- Reference: Steinhauser KE, Voils CI, Clipp EC, Bosworth HB, Christakis NA, Tulsky JA. "'Are you at peace?': One Item to Probe Spiritual Concerns at the End of Life." Archives of Internal Medicine. 2006 Jan 9;166(1):101-5.

- To read this article, go to:

3. Focusing on Patients' Dignity at the End of Life

Good measurement helps bring important things into focus. Harvey Chochinov, a Canadian palliative care physician, has developed the Patient Dignity Inventory (PDI) to assess distress in patients at the end of life. The paper we will discuss this month reports a study of 253 palliative care patients, and what was learned about their met and unmet existential and spiritual needs using the PDI.

- Clinical Focus: Patients in palliative care

- Study Methods/Design: Cross-sectional survey

- Reference: Chochinov HM, Hassard T, McClement S, Hack T, Kristjanson LJ, Harlos M, Sinclair S, Murray A. "The Landscape of Distress in the Terminally Ill." Journal of Pain and Symptom Management. 2009 Nov;38(5):641-9.

- To read this article, go to:

4. Religious Meaning - Making Coping with Chronic Illness

There is a growing body of evidence about the ways people use religion to make sense of chronic illness. Some people turn to God for support, others ask if their illness is a punishment from God. This negative appraisal, also called "religious struggle," is associated with worse outcomes among patients with many different diagnoses. The paper we will discuss this month, a study of young adults with serious mental illness who were followed for 12 months, provides a good introduction to these positive and negative forms of religious coping with a serious illness.

- Clinical Focus: Young adults with serious mental illness

- Study Methods/Design: Longitudinal survey

- Reference: Phillips RE 3rd, Stein CH. "God's Will, God's Punishment, or God's Limitations?" Religious coping strategies reported by young adults living with serious mental illness. Journal of Clinical Psychology. 2007 Jun;63(6):529-40.

- To read the article abstract, go to:

5. An Intervention to Address Religious Meaning-Making

An important challenge for chaplains is to develop evidence of the beneficial effects of our care. Colleagues in psychology have developed and tested several group-based spiritual interventions. The paper we will discuss this month reports a small clinical trial of Building Spiritual Strength, an eight-session intervention designed to address religious struggle and enhance religious meaning-making for people who have experienced trauma. Chaplains might find some of the interventions used in this study relevant for their professional practice. The study also provides a good example of how to conduct and write up a clinical trial.

- Clinical Focus: Veterans exposed to trauma

- Study Methods/Design: Experimental design

- Reference: Harris JI, Erbes CR, Engdahl BE, Thuras P, Murray-Swank N, Grace D, Ogden H, Olson RH, Winskowski AM, Bacon R, Malec C, Campion K, Le T. "The Effectiveness of a Trauma-Focused Spiritually Integrated Intervention for Veterans Exposed to Trauma." Journal of Clinical Psychology. 2011 Apr;67(4):425-38.

- To read the article abstract, go to:


The articles selected for the series are available and participants will be encouraged to read them, and complete their own summary review of the studies, in preparation for the webinar. A form is provided to help participants' create their own summary reviews.


George Fitchett PhD BCC is an associate professor and the director of research in the Department of Religion, Health, and Human Values, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL. He has been a board certified chaplain (Board of Chaplaincy Certification Inc.) and pastoral supervisor (Association for Clinical Pastoral Education) for over 25 years. His book, Assessing Spiritual Needs (Academic Renewal Press, 2002), is a widely used text in clinical and academic training programs. Since 1990, Fitchett has been involved in research examining the relationship between religion and health in a variety of community and clinical populations. His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, and published in pastoral, medical, and psychological journals. In 2006, he received the Anton Boisen Professional Service Award from APC.

Sr. Patricia Murphy PhD BCC has a doctorate degree in pastoral counseling from Loyola University in Baltimore, MD, and a master's in Christian spirituality from St. Louis University, St. Louis, MO. She is an associate professor, and has taught research and statistics, as well as counseling, for many years at Rush University Medical Center, College of Health Sciences, Chicago, IL. She also is the chaplain for the inpatient psychiatry units at Rush. Murphy's research has examined the role of religious beliefs in adults diagnosed with depression. To learn more about her own work and her work with George Fitchett, go to Research in Religion, Health & Human Values on the Rush website.