The Essence of Spiritual Care


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About this module

Thank you for undertaking The Essence of Spiritual Care. This module will take you approximately 60-90 minutes to complete.

There are three other modules in the Spirituality in Health and Palliative Care Course for optional further learning.

  • Module 1: The Essence of Spiritual Care
  • Module 2: Spiritual Care and Professional Practice
  • Module 3: Paediatric Spirituality in a Healthcare Context
  • Module 4: Spirituality, Culture and Context

Pre-program questionnaire

To support the program please complete the Pre-program questionnaire.

All responses are de-identified.


This course aligns with the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards, Second Edition – Standards 2 and 5.

Clinical Governance Standard Partnering with Consumers Standard: Ticked Preventing and Controlling Healthcare-Associated Infection Standard Medication Safety Standard Comprehensive Care Standard: Ticked Communication for Safety Standard Blood Management Standard Recognising and Responding to Acute Deterioration Standard

This training is a product of Palliative Care Australia. Palliative Care Australia is funded by the Australian Government.

Module topics

  • What is spiritual care? What is spirituality?
  • Listening, presence and empathy
  • The art of spiritual care.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module you will be able to:

  • describe the principles of spiritual care in a healthcare context
  • demonstrate a capacity to use a variety of spiritual care interventions to support another.

Resources in this module

  • Fitchett, G., Hisey Pierson, A. L., Hoffmeyer, C., Labuschagne, D., Lee, A., Levine, S., O'Mahony, S., Pugliese, K., & Waite, N. (2020). Development of the PC-7, a Quantifiable Assessment of Spiritual Concerns of Patients Receiving Palliative Care Near the End of Life. Journal of palliative medicine, 23(2), 248–253.
  • Hughes, B., Massey, K., Lindsay, B., Barnes, M., Nash, P., & Hall, E. (2019) The Chaplaincy Taxonomy: Standardizing spiritual care. Health Care Chaplaincy Network & Spiritual Care Association.
  • Meaningful Ageing Australia. (2017). ConnecTo Spiritual Screening Tool – Tool.
  • Monod, S. M., Rochat, E., Bula, C. J., Jobin, G., Martin, E., & Spencer, B. (2010). The spiritual distress assessment tool: An instrument to assess spiritual distress in hospitalised elderly persons. BMC Geriatrics, 10(1), 88.
  • Puchalski, C. M. (2012) Chapter 29: Restorative medicine. In Cobb, M., Puchalski, C. M., & Rumbold, B. (Eds.), Oxford textbook of spirituality in healthcare (pp. 197-210). Oxford University Press.
  • Puchalski, C. M., Sbrana, A., Ferrell, B., Jafari, N., King, S., Balboni, T., Miccinesi, G., Vandenhoeck, A., Silbermann, M., Balducci, L., Yong, J., Antonuzzo, A., Falcone, A., & Ripamonti, C. I. (2019). Interprofessional spiritual care in oncology: a literature review. ESMO open, 4(1), e000465.
  • Puchalski, C. M., Vitillo, R., Hull, S. K., & Reller, N. (2014). Improving the spiritual dimension of whole person care: reaching national and international consensus. Journal of palliative medicine, 17(6), 642–656.
  • Puchalski, C., Ferrell, B., Virani, R., Otis-Green, S., Baird, P., Bull, J., Chochinov, H., Handzo, G., Nelson-Becker, H., Prince-Paul, M., Pugliese, K., & Sulmasy, D. (2009). Improving the Quality of Spiritual Care as a Dimension of Palliative Care: The Report of the Consensus Conference. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 12(10), 885-904.
  • RSA. (2013, December 10). Brené Brown on Empathy [Video]. YouTube.
  • Spiritual Health Association (2021). What is spirituality? What is spiritual care? [Poster series] Spiritual Health Association
  • Williams, R. (2014, April 15). “I Have No Idea How You Feel”. Harvard Magazine.

Module structure