CBCT for Spiritual Health Clinicians

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Emory University




Health Behavior


Behavioral: CBCT-informed training

Study type


Funder types




Details and patient eligibility


The Emory University Spiritual Health department will incorporate Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT) into their training curriculum beginning in Fall 2017, which provides the opportunity to compare students receiving the CBCT addendum with those receiving traditional chaplaincy training. This is a naturalistic study that examines the impact of incorporating CBCT into Emory's spiritual caregiver training program. The researchers will examine the effect of CBCT on empathic accuracy and resilience by comparing the first group of students who receive CBCT-informed training with chaplains who receive standard training in spiritual caregiving and receive CBCT later in the residency year. Comprehensive assessments will be conducted in order to examine whether outcomes for patients are improved for those receiving chaplain spiritual care augmented by CBCT compared to those receiving spiritual care from chaplains who receive CBCT later in their residency.

Full description

Based on a wealth of research demonstrating the associations between physical health and psychosocial well-being, modern health care in the United States is characterized by an increasingly patient-centered model of care that places a premium on the holistic treatment of the patient as a physical, psychosocial, and spiritual whole. Hospital chaplains play a vital role in delivering emotional and spiritual care to a broad range of both religious and non-religious patients for a wide variety of stressors, and extensive research indicates that spiritual consults impact patient outcomes and satisfaction. However, there is remarkably little research on the "active ingredients" of chaplaincy spiritual care, and a subsequent lack of standardization and best-practice guidelines informing chaplain training and chaplain spiritual consulting. CBCT ® (Cognitively-Based Compassion Training) is a secularized compassion meditation program adapted from the Tibetan Buddhist mind training (lojong) tradition, and it may be an ideal addendum to both chaplain training programs and to the spiritual care consults provided by Emory University hospital chaplains to approximately 100,000 patients each year. This is a pilot study to explore the feasibility and impact of incorporating CBCT into the educational curriculum for chaplain residents. To this end, the researchers will (1) examine the impact of CBCT on burnout, compassion, and empathic accuracy among chaplains in training, (2) explore whether the impact persists through the end of the resident training, (3) evaluate the timing of the training within the existing curriculum to maximize its impact, (4) evaluate whether CBCT-informed interventions improve patient outcomes, and (5) explore chaplain and patient mediators of the impact of spiritual care consults on patient outcomes. Data acquired in this pilot study will be used to estimate efficacy and to inform a randomized controlled trial.


304 patients




No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion and exclusion criteria

Inclusion Criteria for Chaplains:

  • Chaplain residents with Spiritual Health at Emory Healthcare

Inclusion Criteria for Chaplains:

  • Patient of Emory Healthcare
  • Requested a spiritual health consultation with a hospital chaplain

Exclusion Criteria:

  • None

Trial design

Primary purpose

Health Services Research



Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


None (Open label)

304 participants in 2 patient groups

Early-start group for CBCT-informed training
Experimental group
Hospital chaplain residents receiving the Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT) education during the first unit of their year-long residency.
Behavioral: CBCT-informed training
Delayed-start group for CBCT-informed training
Active Comparator group
Hospital chaplain residents receiving the Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT) education midway through their year-long residency.
Behavioral: CBCT-informed training

Trial contacts and locations



Data sourced from clinicaltrials.gov

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