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

Ethics Coordinator for Independent Peer Review

School Ethics Lead

Deputy Editor, Journal of New Writing in Health and Social Care
Award Leader, Doctorate in Professional Studies

About Me

My academic background is in religious studies and my early academic activity focussed on the way religious ideas and practices interact with social practices and public perspectives. About ten years ago I started to work on issues raised in the dialogue between religion and dementia studies, a project which has formed the basis for my subsequent academic development.

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

  • Honorary Research Fellow with the Queen's Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education, Birmingham


  • 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

I am currently actively collaborating with:

  • Methodist Homes (MHA), evaluating and developing their Chaplaincy provision
  • Caritas Social Action network (CSAN), developing a Catholic Theology of Aging
  • A consortium of European FE providers, developing a process for training and accrediting family carers of elderly people (ELDICARE)

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

  • Modelling a spirituality for people of no religion based upon insights from social and evolutionary psychology.

Current and recent research projects include

2018-20 Erasmus+ Programme, Key Action 2: Eldi Care: matching skills in a growing European Silver Economy (total value €694174; value to university £64810)

2018 Research project to identify and apply emergent Catholic Social Teaching on Ageing (£10000)

2018 Small research project to evaluate an innovative ‘dementia friendly’ décor (£2000)

2017 Bristol Care Homes (Quarry House). Evaluation of dementia care provision (£6600)

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 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  )

Selected Publications

Kevern, P (2018) “It’s beautiful to be old.” In search of emergent Catholic Social Teaching on Old Age New Blackfriars (In press: accepted 12.11.18)

Lewinson L., McSherry, W. and Kevern, P. (2018) “Enablement”—Spirituality Engagement in Pre-Registration Nurse Education and Practice: A Grounded Theory Investigation. Religions 9, doi:10.3390/rel9110356

Kevern, P and Stiffoss-Hanssen, H (2018) The Challenges of Dementia and the (un)making of meaning: analysis of an online forum on carer spirituality Dementiahttps://doi.org/10.1177/1471301218797248

Kevern, P (2019) Chapter14 on ‘Religion, Ageing and Equality’ for Westwood, S (ed) Ageing, Diversity and Equality: social justice perspectives (Open Access) London: Routledge

Kevern, P (2018) Chapter on ‘Spirituality and Dementia’ for Zsolnai, L and Flanagan, B (eds), Handbook of Spirituality and Society, London: Palgrave (in press)

Kevern, P (2017) Is there a ‘spirituality across faiths’? Insights from evolutionary and developmental science Interreligious Insight 15(2) 30-39

Kevern, P (2016) Spiritual Care as a response to an exaptation: how evolutionary psychology informs the debate. Nursing Philosophy 18 (2)

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 22(4) 151-170

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. (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.

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


Contemporary issues in Health and Social Care; Research Skills; individual sessions for a range of modules


Master’s Dissertation; Thesis component of the Doctorate in Professional Studies; PhD supervision


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