Increasing diversity of Americans' faiths alongside Baby Boomers' aging: Implications for Chaplain intervention in health settings

  • Ai A
  • McCormick T
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Abstract

Chaplains serving in the health care context provide a ministry to dying patients of inestimable worth as they comfort patients in the last chapter of the journey by being present, listening, and caring. Chaplains also play another important role, helping patients clarify ways in which their beliefs and values might influence health care decisions. This paper reviewed the current trends of spiritual diversity alongside the aging of a large Baby Boomer cohort. Chaplains may be challenged as they participate in the decision-making process, or as they support familes who make decisions about the care of loved ones nearing the end of life. Many of those who seek health care and comfort as the end of life approaches will bring a startling diversity of nonbelief, beliefs, and diverse religious and spiritual practices. This pattern of diversity will profoundly affect patients' decision-making around end-of-life issues. Case studies are used to illustrate possibilities for the chaplain's role at the bedside in the face of such diversity. The dimensional information of a new scale is presented for chaplains to assess diverse afterlife beliefs. As chaplains renew their studies of the worlds living religions, they will be better equipped to serve the needs of this large and spiritually diverse population.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Beliefs in an afterlife and immortal soul
  • Diverse faiths
  • Great three origins in the world's beliefs
  • Health chaplaincy
  • Religion and spirituality

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Authors

  • Amy L. Ai

  • Thomas R. McCormick

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