The future of chaplaincy in a secularized society: A mixed-methods survey from the Netherlands

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The spiritual care profession in the Netherlands is going through significant changes, including an increasing demand for secular and multi-faith spiritual care, a move towards professionalization and formulating ‘best practices’, as well as a broadening of the scope of chaplains’ activities.
In October 2019, 405 Dutch healthcare chaplains completed an online mixed methods survey with open and closed-ended questions about their work situation and professional identity. Quantitative analyses showed that, independent of denomination and place of work, most respondents evaluated current developments in chaplaincy in a positive way, especially if they were involved in policy development and training activities. Qualitative findings showed trends towards interconfessional and secular spiritual care, outpatient spiritual care and the emergence of evidence-based chaplaincy. Participants who responded most negatively to those developments criticized evidence-based approaches for measuring the effects of chaplaincy, unstable financing structures, and the encroachment of other professions upon the domain of spiritual care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-144
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Health Care Chaplaincy
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2022


  • Evidence-based chaplaincy
  • mixed methods
  • professional identity
  • secularization

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