Date of Award

Spring 1987

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Gawkoski, Roman

Second Advisor

Nordberg, Robert

Third Advisor

Dupuis, Adrian


Recent changes in health care delivery have made it necessary for hospital administrators to economize to a greater extent than formerly. In many instances, there are fewer health care professionals to care for the needs of very ill patients. Because their expertise is needed in the area of physical care, they often are not able to take the time to attend to the emotional and spiritual needs of their patients. Assistance has been provided by volunteers from church-sponsored lay pastoral care programs. Although studies have shown that it is important for persons to have a positive self-concept in order to minister effectively to others, programs of instruction for lay pastoral care ministers typically do not address this area of concern. In addition, volunteers often share doubts about their ability to be effective in responding to sick or troubled persons. This study measured the self-concepts of the volunteers, the amount of anxiety which they bring to their role, and the types of responses which they prefer to give to those who are sick and troubled. Experienced volunteers from parishes and hospitals in Milwaukee County were selected at random and placed in either an experimental group or a control group. Those in the experimental group answered the Tennessee Self Concept Scale, the State Anxiety Inventory, and the Pastoral Counseling Response Scale, before participating in a workshop on holistic health and again, four weeks later. Persons in the control group answered the same three inventories at the beginning and end of a four week period. They were not invited to attend the workshop. Results showed a significant difference in descriptions of basic identity, moral-ethical worth, and in the number of instructive responses chosen. Mild anxiety was reported in interacting with sick persons. Developmental and supportive responses were preferred. Few persons chose empathic responses. This study indicates a need for lay pastoral care ministers to have instruction in holistic health, communication skills, and alleviation of anxiety when relating to sick and troubled persons. This instruction could be integrated into existing programs of preparation for lay volunteers.



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