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.

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, Australia
  • Andrew Goodhead, UK
  • Erik Olsman​, The Netherlands
  • Piret Paal, Austria/Germany
  • Josep Porta Sales, Spain – EAPC Board link
  • Joep van de Geer, The Netherlands


  • 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


Twitter Handle is @EAPCSpiritualC1


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