First, as a professional chaplain I have often considered participating in research and writing for publication, and you are correct, my writing is for inhouse publications. I have found when I have wanted to pursue a special project beyond direct patient care it is a struggle. There are always more patients to see than I can see, and no “free time” for those special projects unless I pursue them after hours.
The other block for me in pursuing research is that early on a study was done on prayer and the finding were that those who were prayed for did not have better outcomes than the control group that was not prayed for. I had an immediate repulsion to research that wanted to “test” God’s workings. I often say I pray for miracles but do not get to choose them. As the research has shifted to more how do spiritual practices assist in healing, like the study mentioned in the article where the number one non medicine pain relief used is prayer, I am more interested in participating in research.
At our hospital we are beginning a patient improvement project, that is collaborative, and I am on the team because I raised the concern. We have cancer patients that are newly diagnosed, or are tested but may not receive the results, and may or may not be referred to all available services (counseling, support groups, spiritual care etc) I am very excited about this project, led by our lead nurse educator and she is going to chart the number of new diagnosis and what referrals they receive. Our first improvement is to create an order set of sorts for newly diagnosed patients that includes a referral to a chaplain and a patient and family counselor.
I am very supportive and willing to participate in research that improves patient care, especially when it addresses their spiritual needs. I am not supportive of research that tries to prove the reliability of God or the benefits of chaplains.