In 2017-2018, Australian Catholic University partnered with six healthcare organisations (hospitals and residential aged care) to report on the perceived benefits and quality of the pastoral care received by patients and residents.

This study was considered important due to the increasing need for pastoral care organisations to establish their evidence-base, to evaluate and improve the quality of the care they provide, and to communicate the associated benefits. The project was a truly collaborative effort with pastoral care managers and practitioners, and ACU academics, co-designing the research design and questionnaire used in the project. Staff and volunteers in each of the organisations were involved in the distribution and collection of the questionnaires, and key facilitators at each organisation ensured the smooth running of the project. Results overall indicate that participants perceive considerable benefits from engaging with a pastoral care practitioner. Participants also perceive the quality of care that they receive to be high and characterised by empathy, care, dignity and respect.

“She listened to me even though she had probably heard all of my troubles and cares many times. I feel she encourages me always. She is vitally necessary in my life. She puts so much effort and time into our spiritual needs.”

A key strength of this study was its cross-organisational context and large sample, enabling the benefits and impact of pastoral care to be explored across a diverse range of organisations and participants.

Read final report


Sandra Jones
Pro Vice-Chancellor, Engagement
Australian Catholic University

Chloe Gordon
Research Associate, ACU Engagement
Australian Catholic University

Vivian Romero
Senior Research Officer, ACU Engagement
Australian Catholic University

Julie Binstead
Manager, Pastoral and Bereavement Services
Cabrini Health

Trudy Keur
Manager, Pastoral Care Services
Werribee Mercy Hospital

Mary Klasen
Pastoral Care Manager
Mercy Hospital for Women

Mary McInerney
Senior Manager, Pastoral Care Services
Villa Maria Catholic Homes

Karen Rolfe
Pastoral Services Coordinator
St John of God Berwick Hospital

Karan Smith
Executive Manager, Mission Integration and Pastoral Care
Southern Cross Care Vic

Michael Taylor
Manager Pastoral Services, Residential Aged Care
Mercy Health

Jennifer Wegener
Chaplain Team Leader, Mission Development


You might also like

Research at ACU

We are a world-leading research university in our priority areas of education, health, and theology and philosophy with a culture of research excellence founded on the principles of social justice.

Explore our research

Ethics and integrity

Our research ethics, integrity and compliance frameworks ensure that research is conducted responsibly, ethically, and in compliance with all relevant codes, guidelines and legislation.

Our standards

ACU Engagement

Meet the team behind the collection and reporting of engagement and impact data; and the development and implementation of strategies to increase research engagement and impact at ACU.

Meet ACU Engagement

Our mission and values

We are committed to the pursuit of knowledge, the dignity of the human person, and the common good. Discover how this guides our research.

Read our mission

Have a


Our contacts

Have a question for a specific
team? Ask the right person.

View all contacts