• Anne Aldridge Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
  • Derek Fraser Addenbrooke‘s
  • Kevin Morrison Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.




chaplaincy, spiritual care, efficacy, verbatim, spiritual conversations, hospital experiences, life stories, emotional language


An inpatient stay in an acute hospital setting often causes distress, confusion and in many cases the desire to explore existential issues. For health care chaplains there is no debate about the efficacy of the role they play in these existential explorations however there is an increasing need to provide evidence-based research to verify this. As a profession chaplaincy is well versed in anecdote but it needs to move beyond that to evidence of a more robust kind. This research project was an in-depth review of the dialogues held with thirty-four different adults in an acute hospital over a period of three months in 2007 to determine what people talk to chaplains about. The project involved 12 different chaplains having an encounter with a patient and then writing it up as a verbatim. At the same time a literature search was carried out to determine any other research projects of a similar nature. The texts of the encounters were analysed by two chaplains independently – they determined themes raised in the discussions and manually scored these according to the frequency of their occurrence. Results were then compared and areas of discrepancy discussed. Qualitative software was used to verify the findings. The results showed that con-versations appeared to fit into four main topics: spiritual themes; life stories; hospital experiences and emotional expression.

Author Biographies

Anne Aldridge, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Anne Aldridge is Deputy Lead Chaplain at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Derek Fraser, Addenbrooke‘s

Derek Fraser is Lead Chaplain at Addenbrooke‘s in Cambridge and has been involved in the UK Board of Healthcare Chaplaincy (UKBHC) from its inception.

Kevin Morrison, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Keith Morrison is a hospital chaplain whose role is Bereavement Care Follow-up Lead at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.


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How to Cite

Aldridge, A., Fraser, D., & Morrison, K. (2013). WHAT DO PEOPLE TALK TO CHAPLAINS ABOUT?. Health and Social Care Chaplaincy, 3–10. https://doi.org/10.1558/hscc.v12i2.3

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