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Spirituality Research Symposia

The Sixteenth Symposium
June 18, 2013 -- Arthur H. Rubenstein Auditorium
Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine / Smilow Center for Translational Research


TOP: Nicole Saint-Louis; BOTTOM: Christina Jackson and Michael Baime

Over 175 people attended our 16th symposium, exploring how physicians, nurses, social workers, therapists, and clergy face stress, vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue, and burnout as a result of engaging at very close range the suffering of others. Intensive encounters with patients, clients, and congregants make work rich and rewarding, but over time they may also set up conditions that can undermine effective professional practice and the spirit of caring. Presenters addressed recent research and suggested strategies for self-care, with special attention to the value of mindfulness and the articulation and sharing of personal experience. Continuing Education Units were available for Social Workers.

[See links below for PDFs of presentations and handouts]

Nicole Saint-Louis, DSW, LCSW
Assistant Professor, Human Services
City University of New York
"Caring for Our Spirits as Professionals: Using Narrative and Group Support to Reduce Job Stress, Compassion Fatigue, and Burnout"
Lara Krawchuk, MSW, LCSW, MPH
Lecturer, School of Social Policy and Practice
University of Pennsylvania
"When Helping Hurts: Healing the Helping Professional's Weary Soul"
Christina Jackson, RN, PhD
Professor, Department of Nursing, Eastern University
and Associate Editor, Holistic Nursing Practice
"Recognizing and Preventing Vicarious Trauma: A Holistic Perspective"
Michael J. Baime, MD
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania
and Founder and Director of the Penn Program for Mindfulness
"Recapturing the Calling: Using Mindfulness to Undo Burnout and Create Meaning in Practice"
Rev. Wally Fletcher, DMin
The Dialogue Center for Counseling and Consulting
"Taking Care: A Reflection on Provider Stress and Burnout"

Select Titles from the Annual Bibliography of Articles on Spirituality & Health
[or see the full annotated bibliography or index of bibliographies]

Sponsored by
the HUP Department of Pastoral Care and the
HUP Department of Clinical Resource Management and Social Work


Previous Symposia

The Fifteenth Symposium
June 13, 2012 -- Biomedical Research Building Auditorium


Tracy Balboni and Michael Balboni addressing the Symposium

Over 200 people gathered in Penn's BRB Auditorium to consider issues in palliative care at our fifteenth Spirituality Research Symposium. The keynote speakers were Tracy Balboni, MD, MPH, and Michael Balboni, MDiv, ThM, PhD; whose recent research has received national attention regarding patients' experience of advanced illness, the role of spirituality in health care decision-making, and the effect of spiritual support on medical costs at the end of life. Their tandem presentations looked at historic connections and tensions between religion and medicine and the current potential for the development of spiritual care as part of palliative care, reviewing a number of their studies. In addition, David Casarett, MD, spoke on the importance of meaning in patients "last acts"; Barbara Reville, DNP, CRNP, on communication issues in palliative care; and Sarah Kagan, RN, PhD, on aging, illness, and the human spirit. The program concluded with a panel discussion moderated by Kava Schafer, MDiv, MA.

"Spirituality & Palliative Care: Putting the Pieces Together"
with Tracy Balboni, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology, Harvard Medical School, and Center for Psycho-Oncology and Palliative Care Research, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston
"Spirituality & Biomedicine: Retrospect and Prospect"
with Michael Balboni, MDiv, ThM, PhD
Center for Psycho-Oncology and Palliative Care Research, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston
"Last Acts: Discovering Possibility & Opportunity Near the End of Life"
with David Casarett, MD
Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and Chief Medical Officer, Penn Wissahickon Hospice
"Communication as the Cornerstone of Palliative Care Practice"
with Barbara Reville, DNP, CRNP
Co-Director, Palliative Care, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
"Aging, Illness & the Human Spirit: What Are We Missing?"
with Sarah Kagan, RN, PhD
Professor of Gerontological Nursing, and Secondary Faculty, Division of Hematology/Oncology, University of Pennsylvania
"What's at Stake for Us as Practitioners in Health Care Discussions?"
with Kava Schafer, MDiv, MA
Staff Oncology Chaplain, Pastoral Care, and Program Chaplain, Palliative Care, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

Select Bibliography of Articles by Tracy Balboni & Michael Balboni
Select Titles from the Annual Bibliography of Articles on Spirituality & Health

Sponsored by
the Penn Medicine Department of Pastoral Care
and the Penn Medicine Palliative Care Program

The Fourteenth Symposium
June 29, 2011 -- Stemmler Hall


Michael J. Baime, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania,
and founder and Director of the Penn Program for Mindfulness

Michael Baime, MD, delivered the keynote, "Deepening Presence: Mindfulness and Spirituality," reviewing research and explaining the approach of the Penn Program for Mindfulness. Study data illustrated how certain meditative practice can actually affect the brain's structure and functions for attention, learning, and the regulation of emotion. Dr. Baime shared MRI scans (above) of blood flow changes in his own brain during mindfulness meditation and led the audience in a brief exercise. Over 125 people gathered in the Dunlap Auditorium at University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine for the program that also included Anthony Rostain, MD, MA, who spoke about "Spirituality, Mindfulness and the Treatment of Mental Disorders." A panel discussion, moderated by Kava Schafer, MDiv, MA, offered personal and varying religious perspectives on the topic from Rev. Sheila Pierce, a community clergy person; Beth Riesboard, a lay mindfulness practitioner who had participated in the Penn Program for Mindfulness; Julianna Lipschutz, a volunteer pastoral caregiver with Clinical Pastoral Education training; and Pat Lariccia, a physician in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Penn.

Kava Schafer, MDiv, MA, Staff Chaplain, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania,
and Anthony L. Rostain, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, University
of Pennsylvania, and Director of Education, Department of Psychiatry

Panel (L-R): Anthony Rostain, MD; Kava Schafer, MDiv, MA; Beth Riesboard;
Rev. Sheila Pierce; Julianna Lipschutz; Pat Lariccia, MD; and Michael Baime, MD

For material covering major points in Dr. Baime's address on "Mindfulness & Spirituality" in health care, see two of his articles: "This Is Your Brain on Mindfulness" and "Meditation and Spirituality for Health Care Providers".

Dr. Rostain's presentation on "Spirituality, Mindfulness, and the Treatment of Mental Disorders" is available as a PDF, and the clip shown of Jill Bolte Taylor's "Stroke of Insight" may be accessed as a YouTube video.

Handouts at the Symposium included a bibliographic selection of research on Spirituality and Health, from the Department of Pastoral Care's latest annual, annotated bibliography of Medline-indexed articles.

Sponsored by
the Penn Medicine Department of Pastoral Care
and the Penn Program for Mindfulness

The Thirteenth Symposium
May 18, 2010 -- Medical Alumni Hall


"Meditation and Memory"
with Andrew Newberg, MD
Associate Professor of Radiology and Psychiatry, and Director of the Center for Spirituality and the Mind,
University of Pennsylvania
"A Chaplain's Response: Continuing Dialogue Among Disciplines"
with Rabbi Leah Wald, MA
Supervisor, Clinical Pastoral Education, ACPE, Inc.,
Albert Einstein Healthcare Network
"Memory Loss in Alzheimer’s Disease and the Spiritual Self"
with James W. Ellor, PhD, DMin, LCSW, DCSW
Professor of Social Work at Baylor University and Editor of The Journal of Religion, Spirituality and Aging
"Alzheimer's Disease: Overview from a Clinical and Research Perspective"
with Mary Ann Forciea, MD
Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine,
Penn Division of Geriatric Medicine, and Director of
the Geriatric Education Center of Greater Philadelphia

Sponsored by the Penn Geriatric Education Center, the Penn Center for Spirituality and the Mind, and the Penn Medicine Department of Pastoral Care

The Twelfth Symposium
May 21, 2009 -- Clair M. Fagin Hall


Dr. Harold Koenig and Rabbi Dayle Friedman addressing the symposium

Our 12th Spirituality Research Symposium was held on May 21, 2009, at the University of Pennsylvania's Clair M. Fagin Hall auditorium. The event was moderated by Rabbi Dayle A. Friedman, Director of Hiddur: The Center for Aging and Judaism at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (Wyncote, PA). Harold G. Koenig, MD, MHSc, founding Co-Director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology, and Health at Duke University Medical Center, gave the keynote address: "Religion, Spirituality, and Health in Older Adults" and responded to a case of a hospice patient presented by Joe Straton, MD, MSCE, Medical Director of Penn's Wissahickon Hospice. Andrew B. Newberg, MD, Director of the Center for Spirituality and the Mind at the University of Pennsylvania spoke on "The Aging Brain and Spiritual Capacity," and an interdisciplinary panel considered "The Values and Vision of Our Aging Society," with Mary Ann Forciea, MD; Betsy Alexander, RN; Claudia Parvanta, PhD; and Chaplain Ralph Ciampa joining Rabbi Friedman, Dr. Koenig, Dr. Straton, and Dr. Newberg. The event was co-sponsored with the Penn Center for Spirituality and the Mind (with a Templeton Research Lectureship Grant) and the Penn Geriatric Education Center.

Dr. Koenig's slide presentation is available for download as a PowerPoint file or as a PDF file.

Chaplain Ralph C. Ciampa, Director of Pastoral Care

Spirituality and Cancer was the theme of the 11th Spirituality Research Symposium, on April 2, 2008, sponsored by the Department of Pastoral Care, the Abramson Cancer Center, and Penn's Center for Spirituality and the Mind. The program was supported by the Mind, Religion, and Ethics in Dialogue lecture series, funded by the Program on the Constructive Engagement between Science and Religion from the Templeton Foundation, and the Metanexus Institute.

The audience in the Medical Alumni Hall was welcomed by Andrew Newberg, MD, Founding Director of the Center for Spirituality and the Mind, and opening remarks were offered by Joseph Carver, MD, Chief of Staff of the Abramson Cancer Center, and Ralph C. Ciampa, STM, Director of Pastoral Care. Three research presentations followed:


[Slides available as a PDF]
Jun J. Mao, MD, MSCE
Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine


[Slides available as a PDF]
Chanita Hughes-Halbert, PhD
Associate Professor, Psychiatry
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine


Kava Schafer, MDiv, MA
Staff Chaplain, Department of Pastoral Care
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

The program was immediately followed by the inaugural Thorne Sparkman Lecture in Spirituality, Religion and Medicine: Science and Faith: Conflict or Concordance? by Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. The lecture was held in the Dunlop Auditorium.

Since 1998, the Department of Pastoral Care has sponsored, through its multidisciplinary Research Committee, symposia on spirituality and pastoral care research. The event explores issues of theory and methodology, offers a forum for discussion of original research and trends in the field, and provides an occasion for networking between clinicians, researchers, and pastoral care providers. As a regular feature of the symposium, the Department offers an extensive annotated bibliography of articles on spirituality & health.

The 10th symposium was held on Wednesday, April 25, 2007, in the Medical Alumni Hall of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, exploring Spirituality and Health Care Education.

Andrew Newberg, MD, Founder of Penn's Center for Spirituality and the Mind

Panel: Elizabeth Mackenzie, Jean Kristeller, Paul Derrickson, and David Hufford

Presentations included: "Training Physicians to Engage Spiritual Concerns," by Jean Kristeller, PhD, Director of the Center for the Study of Health, Religion and Spirituality at Indiana State University; "Spirituality in Medical School Education," by David Hufford, PhD, Hershey Medical Center, Penn State College of Medicine; "Research in Pastoral Care Education," by the Rev. Paul Derrickson, MDiv, Hershey Medical Center, Penn State College of Medicine; "Humanistic Medicine: Laying the Foundations in Undergraduate Education," Elizabeth Mackenzie, PhD, University of Pennsylvania; and "The Integration of Spirituality into the Medical School Curriculum," by Gail Morrison, MD, Vice Dean for Education, University of Pennsylvania [--see the Penn Current article: "Teaching Doctors to Talk About Faith"].

The event was presented in conjunction with Penn's Center for Spirituality and the Mind, supported by the Mind, Religion, and Ethics in Dialogue lecture series, funded by the Program on the Constructive Engagement between Science and Religion from the Templeton Foundation, and the Metanexus Institute.

The 9th Spirituality Research Symposium
[click on inage to enlarge]

Our 9th symposium, on the topic of Beliefs in Health, was held on Tuesday, April 25, 2006, in the University of Pennsylvania's Hall of Flags (Houston Hall), co-sponsored with Penn's newly-formed Center for Spirituality and the Mind. The program revolved around four main presentations:

I.  Spiritual Belief and Health: Which? Whose? Why? So What?

A thorough analysis of the spirituality, religion and health field carried out in the spring of 2005 revealed much progress but also many gaps in the literature. One of the most serious gaps lies in the cultural domain. The literature reflects a lack of awareness and understanding regarding American cultural diversity in spirituality, religion and health, as well as a lack of attention to issues of language and spiritual experience relevant to health. This presentation sketched out these areas and offered suggestions for making the field more comprehensive and more accurate with regard to American society.
--Presented by David Hufford, PhD, University Professor and Chair, Humanities and Professor, Departments of Neural and Behavioral Sciences and Family and Community Medicine, Penn State University, an expert on the study of cultural and religious belief systems as they pertain to human health, and author of the recent field analysis noted above [available as a PDF, 72 pages, via].

II.  The Science and Spirit of Unselfish Love: Implications for Health and Well Being

Positive beliefs such as love have a major impact on human health and behavior. Love is a fundamental motivator of human beings, influencing everything from family dynamics and health to inner peace and global politics, yet modern science has virtually ignored the subject as a valid source of practical and useful knowledge. This presentation reviewed recent research initiatives into the understanding of how love, the body, and health intersect.
--Presented by Stephen Post, PhD, Professor and Associate Director for Educational Programs, Center for Biomedical Ethics, School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Editor-in-Chief of the Encyclopedia of Bioethics (3rd ed.), and President of the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, which focuses on the scientific study of phenomena such as altruism, compassion, and service.

III.  Religious Struggle: Evidence and Clinical Implications

When beliefs become negative, they can have a similarly negative impact on health. This talk reviewed clinical implications that arise when individuals hold negative beliefs, particularly religious, about themselves and about the meaning and purpose of their lives. It emphasised the various kinds of negative beliefs, their psychology, their relationship to health, and ways that individuals in the health care setting can help patients who have these negative beliefs.
--Presented by George Fitchett, DMin, Associate Professor and Director of Research, Department of Religion, Health and Human Values, and Associate Professor, Department of Preventive Medicine, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois, a leading researcher in religion and health, and author of Assessing Spiritual Needs.

IV.  Neurophysiological Correlates of Beliefs

How do beliefs form? How do beliefs affect our health? In order to address these questions, studies of the underlying neurophysiology must be explored. This presentation reviewed what is currently known about the brain's functions and how they relate to the various components of human beliefs. This included a discussion of neuroimaging studies of various religious states as well as an overview of current knowledge of how beliefs form.
--Presented by Andrew Newberg, MD, Department of Radiology with secondary appointments in Psychiatry and Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania, author of Why God Won't Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief, and founder of Penn's Center for Spirituality and the Mind. (For more on Dr. Newberg's work, go to

In 2005, the theme of the event was The Spiritual Care of Hospitalized Children and Their Families: What We Know from Research and What We Need to Learn, and was held at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Presentations included: "When Children Die: What Narratives Can Tell Us," by The Rev. Dr. Dane Sommers, DMin, BCC (Children's Mercy Hospital, Kansas City); "Stages of Spiritual Development During Childhood," by Andrew Newberg, MD (University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine); "Religion and Coping for Sick Children and Their Families," by Alexandra Boeving, PhD (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia); and "Technology and the Erosion of Religious Values," by Robert Nelson, MD, PhD (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia). The Symposium was moderated by Chris Feudtner, MD, PhD, MPH (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania), who led a panel discussion about the needs for research in order to provide better spiritual care of hospitalized children and their families.

Presentations in previous years have included:

AN OVERVIEW OF SPIRITUALITY AND HEALTH IN MEDICAL EDUCATION AND CONTINUING EDUCATION FOR PHYSICIANS, with David Musick, PhD, Director, Graduate Medical Education, UPHS, and Vice Chair, Education & Development, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

SPIRITUALITY IN THE PRIMARY CARE INTERNAL MEDICINE RESIDENCY PROGRAM, with Kevin Fosnocht, MD, Program Director, Primary Care Internal Medicine Residency Program and Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

THE SPIRITUALITY & MEDICINE SUMMER ELECTIVE COURSE AT THE PENN SCHOOL OF MEDICINE, with Lynn Seng, MSEd, Director, Special Educational Projects, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

A SURVEY OF MEDICAL STUDENT FEEDBACK ON THE PENN SOM SPIRITUALITY & MEDICINE SUMMER ELECTIVE, with Martin Lavengood, MDiv, Chaplain Resident, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

OVERVIEW OF RELIGIOUS COPING RESEARCH, with Anthony N. Fabricatore, PhD, Instructor of Psychology, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania

HOW BRAIN IMAGING RESEARCH HAS SUPPORTED THE PERTINENCE OF SPIRITUALITY IN MEDICAL EDUCATION, with Andrew B. Newberg, MD, Assistant Professor in Radiology and Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania

PHYSICIAN SPIRITUALITY IN THE DOCTOR/HEALER ROLE, with Horace M. DeLisser, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

AN OVERVIEW OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SPIRITUALITY AND SOCIAL HEALTH: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE, with Byron Johnson, PhD, Director, Center for Research in Religion and Urban Civil Society (CRRUCS), University of Pennsylvania

THE FIREARM INJURY EPIDEMIC AND ITS IMPACT ON THE HEALTH OF TODAY'S YOUTH, with C. William Schwab, MD, Chief, Division of Traumatology and Surgical Critical Care, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania




CROSSING THE FINE LINE: INSIGHTS FROM RESEARCH ON HUMAN WHOLENESS, THE RELATION BETWEEN HEALTH CARE AND PASTORAL CARE, AND ASSESSMENT OF CONTEMPORARY SPIRITUALITY, with David A. Scott, Ph.D., William Meade Professor for Theology and Professor of Ethics, Virginia Theological Seminary, Emeritus; and co-author of "Walking a Fine Line: Physician Inquiries into Patients' Religious and Spiritual Beliefs" (2001) and "Prayer as Therapy: A Challenge to Both Religious Belief and Professional Ethics" (2000), in The Hastings Center Report

PERSPECTIVES ON NEUROSCIENCE AND THEOLOGY, with Andrew B. Newberg, M.D., Assistant Professor of Radiology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; and co-author of Why God Won't Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief (2001) and The Mystical Mind: Probing the Biology of Religious Experience (1999)

DESIGNING, IMPLEMENTING, AND EVALUATIONG A SPIRITUALLY BASED PILOT INTERVENTION FOR MINOR DEPRESSION IN OLDER ADULTS, with Elizabeth Mackenzie, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor, Division of Geriatric Medicine; and Associate Fellow, Institute on Aging, UPHS

DESIGN OF A RANDOMIZED CLINICAL TRIAL OF A PASTORAL CARE INTERVENTION AS ADJUNCT THERAPY FOR PULMONARY REHABILIATION FOR EMPHYSEMA, with Jason D. Christie, M.D., Senior Scholar, Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics; and Instructor in Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

DOUBLE-BLIND, RANDOMIZED TRIAL OF PRAYER FOR FROZEN SHOULDER IN THE PHILIPPINES, with Thomas W. Findley, M.D., Medical Holistic Institute, Hackensack, New Jersey

PATTERNS OF RELIGIOUSNESS AND SPIRITUALITY IN THE LAST YEAR OF LIFE, with Ellen L. Idler, Ph.D., Institute for Health, Healthcare Policy and Aging Research, Rutgers University

RESULTS OF A PILOT STUDY OF RELIGIOUSNESS AND DIABETIC OUTCOMES: IMPLICATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH, with David E. Nicklin, M.D., Assistant Professor, Family Practice and Community Medicine & Medical Director, Penn Family Care, UPHS

REFLECTIONS ON RECENT CRITICISM OF THE SPIRITUALITY RESEARCH MOVEMENT, with Larry VandeCreek, D.Min., Director, Pastoral Research, The Healthcare Chaplaincy, New York

COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS IN SPIRITUALITY AND HEALTH CARE RESEARCH, with Margot Hover, D.Min., Teaching Chaplain, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York

MEDITATION AS AN INTERVENTION FOR RESEARCH IN SPIRITUALITY AND HEALTH, with Michael J. Baime, M.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine; and Director, Penn Program for Stress Management, UPHS


THE IMPORTANCE OF DOING THE SCIENCE RIGHT, with John Hansen-Flaschen, M.D., Chief, Pulmonary and Critical Care Division; and Medical Director, Comprehensive Lung Center, UPHS

CONNECTIONS BETWEEN RELIGION AND HEALTH: AN INTRODUCTION, with David J. Hufford, Ph.D., Professor, Departments of Humanities and Behavioral Science, Penn State University; and Director, Doctors Kienle Center for Humanistic Medicine