Communication dynamics in hospice teams: Understanding the role of the chaplain in interdisciplinary team collaboration

Elaine Wittenberg-Lyles, Debra Parker Oliver, George Demiris, Paula Baldwin, Kelly Regehr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Background: Hospice chaplains provide a specific expertise to patient and family care, however, individual roles and responsibilities that facilitate the interdisciplinary team environment are less well known. Objective: The primary aim of this study was to investigate how hospice chaplains perceive their role in interdisciplinary team meetings and to what extent hospice chaplains share common experiences within the interdisciplinary team approach in hospice. Method: Hospice chaplains within a 10-state region participated in a 39-item phone survey about professional roles, group roles, and structural characteristics that influence their ability to participate in interdisciplinary collaboration. Results: Findings revealed that professional role conflict is experienced, primarily with social workers. Informal group task and maintenance roles included team spiritual care advisor and conflict manager, and structural characteristics consisted of extracurricular communication outside of the organization. Conclusions: Although chaplains foster interdisciplinary collaboration within the hospice team, future research needs to address improvements to the chaplain's role within the interdisciplinary team process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1330-1335
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of palliative medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008


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