20 The spiritual dimension of pain therapy


Attention to the spiritual dimension in interprofessional therapy can contribute to more satisfactory management of patients with chronic pain. The study will generate a basis for this approach and tools for interprofessional training and clinical practice.

Portrait / project description (ongoing research project)

The significance of spiritual aspects in the management of chronic pain will be described on the basis of a literature review. The results and further data will be used to develop and test a screening tool in conjunction with pain patients and healthcare professionals. This should make it possible to systematically record the spiritual needs and resources of pain patients and subsequently incorporate them into pain therapy. Finally, an e-learning tool focusing on pain and spirituality will be developed for communication between healthcare professionals and patients. The efficacy of the tool will be evaluated with respect to both initial and more advanced training with the participation of various training institutes.


Chronic pain often has a major physical, psychological and social impact on sufferers. Integrating the spiritual dimension into interprofessional treatment, as called for by the World Health Organisation, can contribute to the provision of high-quality, comprehensive care. However, to date there are no tools suitable for recording patients’ spiritual needs in the everyday clinical setting, or for training professionals in this aspect of pain management and providing them with support.


The study has two goals. Firstly, the significance of the spiritual dimension in medical treatment and nursing will be investigated in chronic pain patients and an appropriate surveying tool will be developed. Secondly, an e-learning tool will be developed for communication between healthcare professionals and patients, and its efficacy assessed.

Relevance / Application

The study will provide a basis and tools for the needs-oriented inclusion of spiritual aspects in the therapy of chronic pain. Targeted teaching/learning programmes will reinforce healthcare professionals’ ability to address spiritual matters with patients. The creation of a network of major training institutions and hospitals in Switzerland will promote the inclusion of the spiritual dimension in the treatment of chronic pain.

Original title

Spiritual Care in Chronic Pain. Interdisciplinary Research for Interprofessional Practice in Medicine and Nursing

Project leaders


  • Prof. Dr. Simon Peng-Keller, Professur für Spiritual Care, Theologische Fakultät, Universität Zürich


  • Prof. Rebecca Spirig, Abteilung Klinische Pflegewissenschaft, UniversitätsSpital Zürich
  • Prof. Sissel Guttormsen Schär, Institut für Medizinische Lehre (IML), Medizinische Fakultät, Universität Bern
  • Alexander Bischoff, Haute école de santé Fribourg
  • Prof. Michael Rufer, Psychiatrische Poliklinik, UniversitätsSpital Zürich
  • Prof. Nikola Biller-Andorno, Institut für Biomedizinische Ethik und Medizingeschichte, Universität Zürich

Project partners:

  • Dr. Hanspeter Mörgeli, Psychiatrische Poliklinik, UniversitätsSpital Zürich
  • Dr. René Hefti, Forschungsanstalt für Spiritualität und Gesundheit, Klinik SGM, Langenthal
  • Prof. Christof Daetwyler, Office of Educational Affairs, College of Medicine, Drexel University
  • Dr. Jan Breckwoldt, Stab Forschung und Entwicklung, Dekanat der Medizinischen Fakultät, Universität Zürich
  • Prof. Ursina Baumgartner, Kalaidos Fachhochschule Schweiz
  • Dr. André Ljutow, Schweizer Paraplegikerzentrum Nottwil, Zentrum für Schmerzmedizin
  • Dr. Isabelle Rittmeyer, Zürcher RehaZentrum Davos
  • Prof. Dr. Haiko Sprott, Arztpraxis Prof. Sprott, Facharzt für Rheumatologie und Allgemeine Innere Medizin, Zürich
  • PD Dr. Konrad Maurer, Interdisziplinäres Schmerzambulatorium, Universitätsspital Zürich



Further information on this content


Prof. Dr. Simon Peng-Keller Universität Zürich
Professur für Spiritual Care
Kirchgasse 9 8001 Zürich +41 44 634 54 00

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