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Professional identity at stake: a phenomenological analysis of spiritual counselors’ experiences working with a structured model to provide care to palliative cancer patients

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Good palliative care requires excellent interprofessional collaboration; however, working in interprofessional teams may be challenging and difficult.

The aim of the study is to understand the lived experience of spiritual counselors working with a new structured method in offering spiritual care to palliative patients in relation to a multidisciplinary health care team.

Interpretive phenomenological analysis of in-depth interviews, was done using template analysis to structure the data. We included nine spiritual counselors who are trained in using the new structured method to provide spiritual care for advanced cancer patients.

Although the spiritual counselors were experiencing struggles with structure and iPad, they were immediately willing to work with the new structured method as they expected the visibility and professionalization of their profession to improve. In this process, they experienced a need to adapt to a certain role while working with the new method and described how the identities of the profession were challenged.

There is a need to concretize, professionalize, and substantiate the work of spiritual counselors in a health care setting, to enhance visibility for patients and improve interprofessional collaboration with other health care workers. However, introducing new methods to spiritual counselors is not easy, as this may challenge or jeopardize their current professional identities. Therefore, we recommend to engage spiritual counselors early in processes of change to ensure that the core of who they are as professionals remains reflected in their work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3111-3118
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
StatePublished - 26 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes
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