Dutch Case Studies Project in Chaplaincy Care

A Description and Theoretical Explanation of the Format and Procedures


  • Martin Walton Protestant Theological University
  • Jacques Körver Tilburg School of Catholic Theology




Case studies, chaplaincy care, format, methodology, research communities


The recent surge of case studies in chaplaincy care raises challenges on the comparability of case studies and the degree to which they elucidate the relation between theory and practice. The Dutch Case Studies Project (CSP) addresses these and other issues by use of a set format and procedure and by evaluation in research communities of chaplains and academic researchers. We first place CSP in the context of Dutch chaplaincy and its recent history. The question of selection of a case for a case study then leads to a discussion of a number of methodological issues. That moves into an explanation of the following steps in the procedure: description, evaluation and finalization. Issues for further discussion and a conclusion complete the article.

Author Biographies

Martin Walton, Protestant Theological University

Martin Walton is Professor of Chaplaincy Care at the Protestant Theological University. He chairs the academic advisory board of the Dutch chaplaincy association, VGVZ. His research topics include intercultural and interreligious chaplaincy care and conceptualizations of chaplaincy and spirituality.

Jacques Körver, Tilburg School of Catholic Theology

Jacques Körver is Associate Professor of Practical Theology and CPE Supervisor at the Tilburg School of Catholic Theology and Chief Editor of the Dutch chaplaincy journal, Tijdschrift Geestelijke Verzorging. His research topics include religious coping, the personality of the chaplain, chaplains and organizations, and theoretical underpinnings of chaplaincy.


Abma, T. A., C. J. Nierse and G. A. M. Widdershoven (2009) “Patients as Partners in Responsive Research: Methodological Notions for Collaborations in Mixed Research Teams”. Qualitative Health Research 19(3): 401–15. https://doi.org/10.1177/1049732309331869

Abma, T. A., and R. E. Stake (2014) “Science of the Particular: An Advocacy of Naturalistic Case Study in Health Research”. Qualitative Health Research 24(8): 1150–61. https://doi.org/10.1177/1049732314543196

Abu-Raiya, H., and K. I. Pargament (2012) “On the Links between Religion and Health: What has Empirical Research Taught Us?” In Oxford Textbook of Spirituality in Healthcare, eds M. Cobb, C. M. Puchalski and B. Rumbold, 333–40. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/med/9780199571390.003.0045

Asquith Jr., G. H. (1980) “The Case Study Method of Anton T. Boisen”. The Journal of Pastoral Care 34(2): 84–94. Available at: https://tinyurl.com/anton-boisen (accessed 14 July 2017). 2017. https://doi.org/10.1177/002234098003400203

Baart, A., and F. Vosman (2006) “Een lerende gemeenschap ‘ethiek’ van geestelijk verzorgers. Theorie en praktijk”. Tijdschrift Geestelijke Verzorging 9(41): 38–50.

Barkham, M., and J. Mellor-Clark (2003) “Bridging Evidence-Based Practice and Practice-Based Evidence: Developing a Rigorous and Relevant Knowledge for the Psychological Therapies”. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy 10: 319–27. https://doi.org/10.1002/cpp.379

Bernts, T., and J. Berghuijs (2016) God in Nederland 1996–2016. Baarn: Ten Have.

Berghuijs, J., J. Pieper and C. Bakker (2013) “Being ‘Spiritual’ and Being ‘Religious’ in Europe: Diverging Life Orientations”. Journal of Contemporary Religion 28(1): 15–32. https://doi.org/10.1080/13537903.2013.750829

Boisen, A. T. (1936) The Exploration of the Inner World. Chicago, IL: Willett, Clark and Co. Amsterdam: Boom.

Breeuwsma, G. (1993) Alles over ontwikkeling. Over de grondslagen van de ontwikkelingspsychologie. Amsterdam: Boom.

Brown, L. (2010) “Making the Case for Case Study Research”. Chaplaincy Today 26(2): 2–15. https://doi.org/10.1080/10999183.2010.10767407

Canada, A. L. (2011) “A Psychologist’s Response to the Case Study: Application of Theory and Measurement”. Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy 17(1-2): 46–54. https://doi.org/10.1080/08854726.2011.559854

Creswell, J. W. (2013) Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design. Choosing Among Five Approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Creswell, J. W., and D. W. Miller (2000) “Determining Validity in Qualitative Inquiry”. Theory into Practice 39(3): 124–30. http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15430421tip3903_2

Fitchett, G. (2011) “Making Our Case(s)”. Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy 17(1-2): 3–18. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08854726.2011.559829

Fitchett, G., and S. Nolan, eds. (2015) Spiritual Care in Practice: Case Studies in Healthcare Chaplaincy. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Flyvbjerg, B. (2006). “Five Misunderstandings about Case-Study Research”. Qualitative Inquiry 12(2): 219–45. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077800405284363

Forrester, J. (2017) Thinking in Cases. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Gerkin, C. V. (1984) The Living Human Document. Revisioning Pastoral Counseling in a Hermeneutical Mode. Nashville, TN: Abingdon.

Glaser, B. G. (1978) Theoretical Sensitivity. Advances in Methodology of Grounded Theory. Mill Valley, CA: The Sociology Press.

Greenhalgh, T., E. Annandale, R. Ashcroft, J. Barlow, N. Black, A. Bleakley, S. Ziebland (2016) “An Open Letter to The BMJ Editors on Qualitative Research”. British Medical Journal 352(563). https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i563

Guba, E. G., and Y. S. Lincoln (1989) Fourth Generation Evaluation. Newbury Park: SAGE Publications.

Kestenbaum, A., J. James, S. Morgan, M. Shields, W. Hocker, M. Rabow and L. B. Dunn (2015) “‘Taking Your Place at the Table’: An Autoethnographic Study of Chaplains’ Participation on an Interdisciplinary Research Team”. BMC Palliative Care 14(20). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12904-015-0006-2

Kolshus, K., N. Loumbeva, F. Matras, G. Salokhe and S. Treinen (2013) Good Practices at FAO: Experience Capitalization for Continuous Learning. FAO: Rome. Available at: http://www.fao.org/docrep/017/ap784e/ap784e.pdf (accessed 14 July 2017).

Körver, J. (2016) “Wat doen geestelijk verzorgers? Met Case Studies op naar Practice-Based Evidence van geestelijke verzorging”. Tijdschrift Geestelijke Verzorging 19(82): 10–19. Available at: https://tinyurl.com/2016-06-160520-pdf (accessed 14 July 2017).

Lub, V. (2014) Kwalitatief evalueren in het sociale domein. Mogelijkheden en beperkingen. Den Haag: Boom Lemma uitgevers.

Lyle, J. (2003) “Stimulated Recall: A Report on Its Use in Naturalistic Research”. British Educational Research Journal 29(6): 861–78. https://doi.org/10.1080/0141192032000137349

MacIntyre, A. (2011) After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory. London: Bloomsbury.

Mackor, A. R. (2009) “Standardization of Spiritual Care in Healthcare Facilities in the Netherlands. Blessing or Curse?” Ethics and Social Welfare 3(2): 215–28. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17496530902951996

McCurdy, D. B. (2015) “Ethical Issues in Case Study Publication”. In Spiritual Care in Practice: Case Studies in Healthcare Chaplaincy, ed. G. Fitchett and S. Nolan, 282–98. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

McCurdy, D. B., and G. Fitchett (2011) “Ethical Issues in Case Study Publication: ‘Making our case(s)’ Ethically”. Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy 17(1-2): 55–74. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08854726.2011.559855

Meraviglia, M. G. (1999) “Critical Analysis of Spirituality and Its Empirical Indicators”. Journal of Holistic Nursing 17(1): 18–33. https://doi.org/10.1177/089801019901700103

Miller-McLemore, B. J. (1996) “The Living Human Web: Pastoral Theology at the Turn of the Century”. In Through the Eyes of Women: Insights for Pastoral Care, ed. J. S. Moessner, 9–26. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.

O’Connor, T. St. J., and E. Meakes (2008) “Canadian Ethnographic Study on the Goals of Theological Reflection in Pastoral Care and Counseling”. Journal of Pastoral Care and Counseling 62(1-2): 113–26. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/154230500806200111

Osmer, R. R. (2008) Practical Theology: An Introduction. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Panter, J., C. Guell and D. Ogilvie (2016) “Qualitative Research Can Inform Clinical Practice”. British Medical Journal 352(1482). https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i1482

Polanyi, M. (1967) The Tacit Dimension. New York: Doubleday.

Reckwitz, A. (2002) “Toward a Theory of Social Practices: A Development in Culturalist Theorizing”. European Journal of Social Theory 5(2): 243–63. Available at: https://tinyurl.com/10-1-1-922-8711 (accessed 14 July 2017).

Riemslagh, M. (2011) (In)Correcte Gespreksvoering. Fundamenteel onderzoek naar de ethiek van het pastorale gespreksproces. Bornem: Unibind.

Schilderman, H. (2012) “Geïntegreerde geestelijke verzorging”. Tijdschrift Geestelijke Verzorging 15(68): 9–14.

Schipani, D. S. (2014) “Case Study Method”. In The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Practical Theology, ed. B. J. Miller-McLemore, 91–101. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Slater, V. (2015) “Developing Practice-Based Evidence”. In A Handbook of Chaplaincy Studies: Understanding Spiritual Care in Public Places, eds C. Swift, M. Cobb and A. Todd, 63–75. Farnham and Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

Smeets, W., and T. Morice-Calkhoven (2014) “From Ministry Towards Spiritual Competence: Changing Perspectives in Spiritual care in the Netherlands”. Journal of Empirical Theology 27(1): 103–29. https://doi.org/10.1163/15709256-12341291

Snowden, A., G. Fitchett, D. H. Grossoehme, G. Handzo, E. Kelly, S. D. W. King, I. Telfer, H. Tan and K. J. Flannelly (2016) “International Study of Chaplains’ Attitudes About Research”. Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy 23(1): 1–10. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08854726.2016.1250556

Stake, R. E. (1995) The Art of Case Study Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Strauss, A., and J. Corbin (1998) Basics of Qualitative Research: Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory, 2nd edn. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Swift, C., M. Cobb and A. Todd, eds (2015) A Handbook of Chaplaincy Studies. Understanding Spiritual Care in Public Places. Farnham and Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

Thomas, G. (2011) How to Do Your Case Study? A Guide for Students and Researchers. London and Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

VandeCreek, L., and A. M. Lucas, eds (2001) The Discipline for Pastoral Care Giving: Foundations for Outcome Oriented Chaplaincy. New York: Haworth.

Vandenhoeck, A. (2007) De meertaligheid van de pastor in de gezondheidszorg. Resultaatgericht pastoraat in dialoog met het narratief-hermeneutisch model van C.V. Gerkin. Onuitgegeven doctoraatsproefschrift, faculteit Godgeleerdheid KU Leuven. Available at: https://tinyurl.com/1979-877-5 (accessed 14 July 2017).

Van der Zande, M., A. Baart and F. Vosman (2013) “Ethical Sensitivity in Practice: Finding Tacit Moral Knowing”. Journal of Advanced Nursing 70(1): 68–76. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jan.12154

Van Loenen, G., J. Körver, M. Walton and R. De Vries (2017) “Case Study of ‘Moral Injury’: Format Dutch Case Studies Project”. Health and Social Care Chaplaincy 5(2): 281–96.

Veerman, J. W., and T. A. van Yperen (2007) “Degrees of Freedom and Degrees of Certainty: A Developmental Model for the Establishment of Evidence-Based Youth Care”. Evaluation and Program Planning 30(2): 212–21. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2007.01.011

Visse, M., T. A. Abma and G. A. Widdershoven (2012) “Relational Responsibilities in Responsive Evaluation”. Evaluation and Program Planning 35(1): 97–104. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2011.08.003

Werner, H., and B. Kaplan (1956) “The Developmental Approach to Cognition: Its Relevance to the Psychological Interpretation of Anthropological an Ethnolinguistic Data”. American Anthropologist 58(5): 866–80. https://doi.org/10.1525/aa.1956.58.5.02a00070

Yin, R. K. (2014) Case Study Research. Design and Methods, 5th edn. Los Angeles and London: SAGE Publications.



How to Cite

Walton, M., & Körver, J. (2018). Dutch Case Studies Project in Chaplaincy Care: A Description and Theoretical Explanation of the Format and Procedures. Health and Social Care Chaplaincy, 5(2), 257-280. https://doi.org/10.1558/hscc.34302

Most read articles by the same author(s)