The Chaplaincy Taxonomy: Standardizing Spiritual Care Terminology

The chaplaincy profession stands at a rare moment in its history. American health care has shifted from fee-for-service to fee-for-value to advance the overall goals of providing better care for individuals, improving population health management strategies, and reducing health care costs. In this new arena of fee-for-value, chaplains have an opportunity to confidently articulate their distinctive contributions to health care.

Previously, in the fee-for-service environment, chaplains sought to find a way to measure or quantify the care they provided. This was largely accomplished through volume statistics. “How much chaplaincy were we delivering? How many visits? How many resources? How many sacraments, or books, or things did we give out? The problem with that, of course, is that it is not a metric of quality, and it doesn’t tell us anything about whether what we did made any difference.”

Value-based health care requires every health care provider, including chaplains, to demonstrate that their services contribute to specific outcomes, which in turn lead to high-quality health care. Globally, funding for professional chaplaincy increasingly needs to be justified. Chaplains must find ways of explicitly communicating alignment of their professional efforts with those of the institutions they serve—with the ultimate goal of making a significant and unique contribution to the overall health and well-being of patients, families and staff. This requires standardizing how chaplains communicate about what they do.



In order to demonstrate value, professional health care chaplains need a common language of what they do, how they do it, and why it matters. The Spiritual Care Association is proud to release The Chaplaincy Taxonomy: Standardizing Spiritual Care Terminology. You can download a copy by clicking the button below.

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Additional resources:


Chaplaincy Taxonomy Review Council:

To contact the Chaplaincy Taxonomy Review Council, send your email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. There are several reasons to contact the Advisory Council, including but not limited to:

  • Make suggestions for additions or deletions to the Chaplaincy Taxonomy, including learning the formal process for doing so
  • Provide feedback for definitions for the items of the Taxonomy as described in the User’s Guide (see link above)
  • Register your institution’s use of the Chaplaincy Taxonomy. This also allows for the opportunity for your institution to be involved in research related to the use of the Chaplaincy Taxonomy in potential multi-site research
  • Ask questions or seek assistance in locating the EPIC or Cerner Chaplaincy Taxonomy templates for use in your own institution.