Why are some healthcare chaplains registered professionals and some are not? A survey of healthcare chaplains in Scotland

Austyn Snowden, Ini Enang, W.George Kernohan, Derek Fraser, Alan Gibbon, Ian Macritchie, Wilfred McSherry, Linda Ross, John Swinton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
109 Downloads (Pure)


The professional status of UK healthcare chaplains remains partial, with voluntary accreditation effective in achieving around 50% registration. This study set out to elicit reasons for this by surveying healthcare chaplains working in Scotland. An online survey was created to gather demographic details and chaplains' opinions on the importance of five key elements of professional status: A body of knowledge that underpins practice; A code of professional ethics; An occupational organization controlling the profession; Substantial intellectual and practical training; and Provision of a specialized skill or service. Most respondents (38/43) agreed that chaplains should belong to a professional body in order to maintain standards, ensure accountability and formalize professional development. They said that registration reinforced their professional status, added credibility and a clear governance structure to protect the public. However, a minority felt disconnected from the professionalization agenda. This paper discusses the reasons for this. Further UK and international studies into the professional status of chaplains are planned.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9783
Pages (from-to)45-69
Number of pages25
JournalHealth and Social Care Chaplaincy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 23 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the Chief Scientist Office (CSO) in Scotland, ref CGA/18/34.

Publisher Copyright:
© Equinox Publishing Ltd 2020.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Accountability
  • Accreditation
  • Chaplain
  • Professional
  • Professionalization
  • Registration
  • Status
  • Survey


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