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EAPC Task Force on Spiritual Care in Palliative Care

The EAPC Task Force on Spiritual Care in Palliative Care will help developing spiritual care in an European context. We are deeply convinced that we can learn much from each other and achieve great things in an open minded atmosphere. We intend to contribute using experience in discussing and building bridges where delicate end-of-life issues in secular and/or multi-cultural society divide people.

Latest news: At the recent research congress in Dublin, June 2016, the implementation subgroup of the Spiritual Care Task Force presented the sociodemographic data from the survey they conducted in April-May 2016 which explored palliative care professionals’ understandings of spiritual care. Read the presentation here

Read the blogs:
Spiritual care in palliative care: Lost case
The EAPC Spiritual Care Task Force survey: How do palliative care professionals currently understand spiritual care?



Countries that participate in the Taskforce Spiritual Care


EAPC taskforce on Spiritual Care in Palliative Care


The WHO definition of palliative care includes taking care of the spiritual (care) needs of patients. It is essential that the spiritual (care) needs of patients, family and carers in all settings are adequately met. These is much discussion about the definition of spirituality. Based on the 2009 Consensus Conference in the US, at the invited conference in October 2010 this taskforce has agreed upon the following working definition and comment:

Spirituality is the dynamic dimension of human life that relates to the way persons (individual and community) experience, express and/or seek meaning, purpose and transcendence, and the way they connect to the moment, to self, to others, to nature, to the significant and/or the sacred.

The spiritual field is multidimensional:

  1. Existential challenges (e.g. questions concerning identity, meaning, suffering and death, guilt and shame, reconciliation and forgiveness, freedom and responsibility, hope and despair, love and joy).
  2. Value based considerations and attitudes (what is most important for each person, such as relations to oneself, family, friends, work, things nature, art and culture, ethics and morals, and life itself).
  3. Religious considerations and foundations (faith, beliefs and practices, the relationship with God or the ultimate).


Aims & objectives 2015 - 2017

The mission of the Taskforce is to encourage all members of the EAPC to support spiritual care in palliative care through:

  • Research
  • Education
  • Implementation


Short term aims and objectives: 2015 - 2017

1. Research

Research group Planned aims:

  • To continue to facilitate networking and collaboration between clinicians and researchers interested in SCPC
  • To make an inventory of current, recent and imminent research on SCPC in EU to facilitate collaboration and networking and identify gaps in current research
  • To identify and evaluate existing SCPC guidelines (using ‘AGREE’ evaluation instrument)
  • To continue to work on the theoretical  basis/framework of SCPC research and publish White Paper on this
  • To educate and support chaplains as researchers of SCPC


2. Education

  • To contribute to the quality of the spirituality program on EAPC congresses
  • To make accessible and exchange successful training programs
  • To develop core content in teaching spirituality to non chaplaincy-professionals
  • To promote spiritual issues as a mandatory element to all disciplines
  • Preparation of training materials based on Marie Curie SC competencies across 4 levels of NICE


3. Implementation

  • Continue the series of papers on SCPC in specific countries in the EJPC.
  • Conducting a survey exploring existing practices of spiritual care and related activities/services to obtain detailed data on the current situation across Europe (and hopefully also beyond Europe).








Time Step  

2010 April

The Taskforce was established  
2010 October 15 - 17 Invited conference The Netherlands, to set Aims and Objectives   

2011 May 18 - 22

EAPC Conference Lisbon, Portugal, Final set-up of the Taskforce   

The taskforce Spiritual Care, has worked steadily to develop further initiatives in three fields:


  • Publication of the results of the survey in JPSM (Research Priorities in Spiritual Care: An International Survey of Palliative Care Researchers and Clinicians)
  • Involvement in a worldwide 14-center study on the spiritual care needs of patients and families (in progress)
  • Collaboration with Global Network for Spiritualty and Health (GNSAH)


  • Development of an online inventory of European initiatives in education (cf. EAPC website)
  • Publication of the results of a European survey in EJPC
  • Development of a white paper on spiritual care education (in progress)


  • Publication of a series of papers in the EJPC on how spiritual care is implemented in various European countries (Netherlands, Italy, UK, Germany, Finland, Estonia) which will be continued in the future
  • Development of a European survey on implementation of spiritual care (in progress)


Higlights Taskforce in 2014 & 2015

Taskforce meetings in Lleida and Copenhagen. Click here to view the reports.

Taskforce meets GNSAH in Copenhagen.

The Linkedin group has grown to more than 400 members.

Several publications in EJPC. See related publications.



Carlo Leget, University of Humanistic Studies, Utrecht, The Netherlands

to contact by email please click here

Joep van de Geer, Spiritual Care, Medical Centre Leeuwarden, The Netherlands

to contact by email please click here



Maria Teresa Garcia-Baquero Merino
St. Christopher's Hospital, London

Marie-José H. E. Gijsberts
MD, Elderly care physician/ Researcher EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Andrew Goodhead
St Christopher's Hospice, South-East London

Piret Paal
Researcher, Munich, Germany

Bella Vivat
Senior Research Associate, Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Department, University College London

Marijke Wulp


For more information about the taskforce please send an email to Marijke Wulp


If you wish to join the open LinkedIn group of the Taskforce Spiritual care click here.



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