Spiritual Care

What is Spiritual Care?
The WHO definition of palliative care encompasses meeting the spiritual (care) needs of patients, their family and caregivers in all settings. The Spiritual Care reference group has embraced 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, containing:

  • 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).
  • 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).
  • Religious considerations and foundations (faith, beliefs and practices, the relationship with God or the ultimate).  Read the full article here

What are we aiming For?

The Spiritual Care reference group started in 2010 as a multidisciplinary task force aimed at the development and implementation of spiritual care methods and standards to meet adequately the spiritual care needs of patients, informal and formal caregivers in all palliative care settings. It became a reference group in 2019 focusing on developing evidence based care models and practices as well as promoting high quality education. The Spiritual Care reference group connects researchers, educators, healthcare chaplains, healthcare professionals, and other EAPC steering groups, in order to disseminate knowledge, research initiatives, educational developments and implementation projects. We are actively looking to develop a structural commitment and cooperation between national member organizations of the EAPC and other dedicated (inter)national institutions. We encourage all members of the EAPC to support spirituality and spiritual care in palliative care through research, education and implementation.


  • 2020 Palermo: Open Meeting is scheduled for Thursday 14th of May, from 12.15-13.45 in Hall 20A
  • 2019 Berlin: TF became a reference group. Prof. Dr. Marie-José H.E. Gijsberts became the new chair
  • 2018 Switzerland: TF meeting cancelled
  • 2017 Spain: TF meets in Madrid
  • 2016 Ireland: TF meets in Dublin
  • 2015 Denmark: TF meets at GNSAH in Copenhagen
  • 2014 Spain: TF meets in Lleida
  • 2013 Czech Republic: TF meets in Prague
  • 2012 Norway: TF meets in Trondheim
  • 2011 Portugal: Final set-up of the TF in Lisbon
  • 2010 The Netherlands: establishing the TF and setting aims and objectives

Publications *

An EAPC white paper on multi-disciplinary education for spiritual care in palliative care

Spiritual Care in Palliative Care: A Systematic Review of the Recent European Literature

What activities do EAPC members consider to be spiritual care? Results from a survey on behalf of the EAPC Spiritual Care Task Force

Implementing spiritual care at the end of life in the Republic of Ireland 

Implementing spiritual care at the end of life in Spain

Spiritual care education: results from an EAPC survey 

Implementing spiritual care at the end of life: the UK 

Implementing spiritual care at the end of life: Estonia 

Implementing spiritual care at the end of life: Finland 

Implementing spiritual care at the end of life: Germany

Implementing spiritual care at the end of life: Italy 

Implementing spiritual care at the end of life: the Netherlands

Spiritual care in palliative care: working towards an EAPC Task Force 

*These documents are held under copyright of the publisher and may be downloaded for single academic use only. Reproduction for any other purpose is not allowed.


Marie-José H.E. Gijsberts

Vrije Universiteit Brussels

End of Life Research Group

Brussels, Belgium

to contact by email: click here


Bella Vivat

Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Department

Division of Psychiatry

University College London


Carlo Leget

The Netherlands

Megan Best
Andrew Goodhead
Erik Olsman​
The Netherlands
Piret Paal
Josep Porta Sales
Spain - EAPC Board link
Joep van de Geer

The Netherlands


Twitter Handle is @EAPCSpiritualC1


If you wish to join the LinkedIn group of the Task Force Spiritual care click here.

Click on the logo to read posts relevant to our work on the EAPC Blog.
Many have been contributed by our task force/reference group members.