Dr Peter Kevern

Job Title and Responsibilities

Associate Professor in Values in Care

Member of the University Research Development Committee
Member of the University Ethics Committee

Chair of the Faculty Ethics Committee
Member of the Faculty Research and Scholarship Development Committee
Member of the Faculty Senior Leadership Team

Member of the Editorial Committee, Journal of New Writing in Health and Social Care
Award Leader, Doctorate in Professional Studies
Award Leader, MSc in Healthcare Leadership

About Me

My academic background is in Philosophical Theology and Religious Studies, and I came to Staffordshire University in 2010 after a career training Christian Ministers for the Anglican and Methodist Churches.  I became involved in research and teaching in Health Sciences when, as a result of my own mother’s dementia, I started thinking and writing about the philosophical and religious issues raised as her condition progressed.

As well as continuing to work on the relationship between religion and dementia, I am now working on a range of projects which concern human spirituality, the interface between religion and health, ageing and/or death. I am particularly interested in the potential role of religious communities in helping to deliver public health gains.

More generally, I believe that a concern for ‘wellbeing’ requires us to wrestle with questions about meaning, value, identity and belonging as well as being concerned for physical health.  I am passionate about bringing together statutory providers, businesses, third sector organisations, and religious and faith communities to work together on shared goals. Therefore, in addition to my university duties, I seek to develop links with a wide range of potential collaborators in the UK and internationally in order to build a richer discourse on health and wellbeing.


BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences (UEA 1980)

BD  Distinction (Birmingham 1996)

PhD (Birmingham 1999)

PGCertFHE (Gloucestershire 2001)

Professional Memberships and Activities

  • British Association for the Study of Spirituality

  • Trustee of Age Concern (Birmingham)

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

  • External Examiner for Research degrees, University of Bedfordshire

  • External Examiner for the Doctor of Ministry, Durham University


  • Religious communities and their role in health promotion

  • Spiritual care and spiritual assessment, particularly in relation to End of Life Care

  • Ageing and religion

  • Dementia studies

  • Cognitive psychology of religious coping

  • Evolutionary psychology of religion

Enterprise and Commercial Activities

University lead for the STAR consortium, an EU-funded collaboration developing online dementia training for carers of people with dementia in 6 nations (http://startraining.eu )

Lead for HEFCE-funded collaboration with the GSF Centre(http://www.goldstandardsframework.org.uk/) developing and delivering module in Spiritual Care and Dementia Care

Lead on a Grundtvig-funded project with 5 other national partners across the EU on ‘Processes to Empower Older People in Care Settings’

Research Interests

These have developed organically out of my focal interests in religion and dementia. I am currently ‘research-active’ in the following areas:

  • Dementia and spirituality/religion

  • Conversations about death and dying

  • Religious communities as resources for public health

  • Ageing and religion

  • Primary Care Chaplaincy

  • The role of ‘marketplace’ platforms for contracting health and social care services

Current and recent research projects include

2015-16 HEIF-COMPACS project: pilot project to profile the market and test a model for a unified digital platform for the offering, selection and evaluation of health and social care services at home (HEIF internal funding, £4000).

2015-16   Project in collaboration with Age Concern Birmingham to develop, run and evaluate a set of cafe-style events to discuss death, dying and funerals (funded by Esme Fairbairn Trust, total value £30000)

2013-2015 Collaborating with 5 agencies in 5 other EU countries on a Grundtvig-funded programme, ‘Processes for Empowering Older People in Care Settings (PEP)’. (value to University, €20000)

2014 Consultancy with a group of private residential care homes, (Bristol Care Homes) to develop their dementia care facilities and service: £6000

2013-2014 University lead on an evaluation and development project with a group of Primary Care providers who have piloted the use of Chaplains in primary care. Funding from CCG: £55000

2013-2014 Working with the Anglican Diocese of Lichfield and the Archbishop’s Council on the ‘GraveTalk Pilot’,  a programme of ‘conversations on death and dying’ for pilot initially in one diocese, then to be rolled out nationally. Initial funding to university: £7500

2011-2014 Member of the STAR consortium, an EU-funded European project developing online training for people with dementia and their carers

Selected Publications

Kevern, P (2016) Spiritual Care as a response to an exaptation: how evolutionary psychology informs the debate.Nursing Philosophy (under review)

McSherry, W; Boughey, A; and Kevern, P (2016) Chaplains for wellbeing in primary care: A qualitative investigation of their perceived impact for patients’ health and wellbeing. Journal of Healthcare Chaplaincy (under review)

Kevern, P and McSherry, W (2015) Chapter 3: ‘The Study of Chaplaincy: methods and materials’ in Christopher Swift, Mark Cobb and Andrew Todd (ed) Handbook of Chaplaincy Studies: understanding spiritual care in public places London: Ashgate

Kevern, P and Ladbury, I (2015) The resource implications of the Sandwell 'Chaplains for Wellbeing' service: a data analysis. New Writing in Health and Social Care 2(1) 47-54

Kevern, P. (2015). The spirituality of people with late-stage dementia: a review of the research literature, a critical analysis and some implications for person-centred spirituality and dementia care. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 18(9), 765-776.

Bolstridge, F and Kevern, P (2015) Who chooses ‘Choose and Book’ for Orthopaedic referrals? Analysis of data from one GP practice. New Writing in Health and Social Care 1:2, 1-8

Kevern, P and Sanders, J (2015) ‘Death-confident congregations’? Lessons from the GraveTalk Pilot. New Writing in Health and Social Care 1:2, 21-30

Lewinson, L, Kevern, P and McSherry, W (2015) Spirituality in pre-registration nurse education and practice: A literature review Nurse Education Today 35(6), 806-814

Kevern, P and Hill, L (2014) ‘Chaplains for Wellbeing’ in Primary Care: results of a retrospective study. Primary Healthcare Research and Development  16 (1) 87-99.

Regan, J.L.; Bhattacharyya, S.; Kevern, P. & Rana, T. (2013) A Systematic Review of Religion and Pathways to Dementia Care in Black and Minority Ethnic Populations. Journal of Mental Health, Religion and Culture 16 (1), 1-15

Kevern, P and Walker, M (2013) Religious Communities: what can they offer? Journal of Dementia Care 21(4) 26-28

Kevern, P (2013) Can Cognitive Science Rescue Spiritual Care from a Metaphysical Backwater? An Argument for More Theory Journal for the Study of Spirituality 3(1) 8-17

Walsh, J., Kevern, P., & McSherry, W. (2013). The representation of service users’ religious and spiritual concerns in care plans. Journal of Public Mental Health, 12(3), 153-164.

Barber, C, and Kevern, P (2012) Spirituality and the needs of those with Autistic Spectrum Conditions: some implications for ‘Spiritual Care’ policies Journal for the Study of Spirituality 1(2) 203-14

Kevern, P (2012a) Who can give spiritual care? A consideration of the ethics of discussing spiritual values with patients. Journal of Nursing Management 20(8):981-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2834.2012.01428.x. Epub 2012 Jul 10.

Kevern, P (2012b) Community without memory. In search of an ecclesiology of liberation in the company of people with dementia International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church 12(1) 44-54

Kevern, P (2012c) In search of a theoretical basis for understanding religious coping: initial testing of an explanatory model Journal of Mental Health, Religion and Culture 15(1) 23-37

Kevern, P (2011) “I pray that I will not fall over the edge” What is left of faith after dementia? Practical Theology 4(3) 283-94

Kevern, P (2010a) What sort of God is to be found in dementia? A survey of theological responses and an agenda for their development Theology CXVIII (873) 174-82

Kevern, P (2010b) Can reductionists be chaplains too? Reflections on the emptiness of ‘spirituality’ Scottish Journal of Healthcare Chaplaincy 13(2) 2-6

Kevern, P (2010c) Sharing the mind of Christ: preliminary thoughts on dementia and the cross New Blackfriars 91(1034) 408-22

Kevern, P (2010d) Alzheimer’s and the dementia of God International Journal of Public Theology 4(2) 237-53

Kevern, P (2009) The grace of foolishness: what dementing Christians bring to the churches Practical Theology 2(2) 205-18

Current Teaching


Health Policy and Practice; Current issues in Health and Social Care; Professional Issues in Health Studies


Leadership in Health Services; Risk, Decision making and Uncertainty; Master’s Dissertation; Thesis component of the Doctorate in Professional Studies; PhD supervision


Dr Peter Kevern
Staffordshire University
Faculty of Health Sciences
Staffordshire University
Blackheath Lane
ST18 0AD
t: +44 (0)1785 353762
e: p.kevern@staffs.ac.uk